It’s a fact: In Europe, Alpine ski racing does a celebrity make. Stateside, though, we’re often only familiar with podium regulars such as Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller, and Ted Ligety (or, you know, if one of them makes an appearance on TMZ). Now’s the time to brush up on your knowledge of the sport and impress your friends while sitting in the grandstands watching skiers sail over the finish line at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek. Here, a by-no-means-complete list of athletes you should know.
Lindsey Vonn: We’re starting with the easy ones here. Colorado’s golden woman is considering one of the all-time best female ski racers across disciplines. (She holds a record 64 World Cup wins.) Expect a lot of speed—and perhaps a Tiger Woods sighting.
Mikaela Shiffrin: Colorado’s hometown favorite—she hails from Eagle-Vail—is heading to the slopes to defend her back-to-back World Cup gold medals in the slalom. Oh, and did we mention that last year in Sochi she became the youngest skier ever to win an Olympic slalom gold medal? She was 18.
Tina Maze: This 31-year-old Slovenian is a beast in the world of alpine ski racing. She’s the reigning world champion in Super-G and is one of just three women who has won in all five disciplines in a single season. (She’ll be competing against Shiffrin at least once.)
Anna Fenninger: Before the age of 25, this Austrian speed demon accomplished a feat few others had that young, winning gold at the Winter Olympics and World Championships, plus the overall World Cup title. And she campaigns for endangered cheetahs in Africa, so, yeah, she’s a winner.
Julia Mancuso: Vonn’s forever rival, Mancuso often makes it onto the podium (just not as regularly in the top spot as Vonn).
Marcel Hirscher: Currently sitting first on the World Cup leaderboard, the Austrian won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. He’s only 25.
Ted Ligety: Might as well nickname him the Flash. In 2013, he earned the fourth Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom title of his career—and won his first GS race that season by 2.75 seconds. He also scored skiing’s version of a hat trick (just the second man to do so) during the World Championships with golds in Super-G, Super Combined, and Giant Slalom.
Kjetil Jansrud: A Norwegian ski racer, Jansrud is at home in the top podium spot. In Sochi, he took home gold in Super-G (plus a bronze in Downhill), and he’s taken World Cup gold in Super-G and Downhill three times since his debut in 2003.
Felix Neureuther: This German Slalom and Giant Slalom competitor hasn’t been on the podium as much as some of the other men listed here, but he’s consistently seeded among the best.
Bode Miller: The oldest member of the U.S. team (he’s 37) is household name, but coaches are listing him as day-to-day, so there’s a big question mark as to whether or not he’ll even compete.
Super-G: Women’s: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 11 a.m.; Men’s: Wednesday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m.
Downhill: Women’s: Friday, Feb. 6, 11 a.m.; Men’s: Saturday, Feb. 7, 11 a.m.
Alpine Combined: Women’s: Monday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m./2:15 p.m.; Men’s: Sunday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m./2:15 p.m.
Giant Slalom: Women’s: Thursday, Feb. 12, 10:15 a.m./2:15 p.m.; Men’s: Friday, Feb. 13, 10:15 a.m./2:15 p.m.
Slalom: Women’s: Saturday, Feb. 14, 10:15 a.m./2:15 p.m.; Men’s: Sunday, February 15, 10:15 a.m./2:15 p.m.