Alpine skiing: Austria eye new medal sweep at worlds

Austria are hoping to replicate their strong 2011 form at this year's world championships run over the next two weeks, with a hoped-for tally of up to eight medals across all disciplines.

"The expectations are great of course," Austrian alpine ski chief Hans Pum said Tuesday. "We want to win six to eight medals for Austria."

Austrian ski federation president Peter Schroecksnadel already announced a general medal sweep by the ski-mad nation ahead of the two weeks of competition.

"We can medal in every discipline, of that I'm convinced," he told the daily Die Presse in a recent interview.

The Austrians will benefit from racing on home snow in Schladming, backed by many of the 400,000 fans expected over the two-week ski fest.

The small nation also has a strong team with 27 athletes competing in every event, including World Cup podium regulars like Marcel Hirscher, Anna Fenninger and Hannes Reichelt.

But defending super-G and downhill champion Elisabeth Goergl has been out of form lately and injured slalom queen Marlies Schild was still unsure whether she could race.

The ladies also face stiff competition from Slovenia's current World Cup leader Tina Maze and US darling Lindsey Vonn, while the men are up against the likes of Aksel Lund Svindal, Ted Ligety and Dominik Paris of Italy.

In Garmisch in 2011, the Austrian ladies conquered the podiums, taking five medals -- including four gold -- in every discipline but the giant slalom.

The men brought home two silvers for a total of seven medals in 11 events.