ROSA KHUTOR - The absence of media starlet and reigning Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn has dominated the build-up to the women's alpine skiing programme at the Sochi Winter Games. Vonn attempted a brave comeback after sustaining a horrendous injury at last year's world championships in Schaldming, but eventually halted her season after her re-built knee failed to respond as planned in Val d'Isere in December. Her place as the US team's likely medal getter has gone to 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, who became the youngest American, at 17, to win world gold when she scooped the slalom crown after Vonn had been taken home from Austria. Shiffrin could only manage seventh at the slalom in the final World Cup event, which was won by debutant winner Frida Hansdotter of Sweden.–AFP