The men's slalom in Sochi was being billed as a head-to-head between Felix Neureuther and Marcel Hirscher - who have won nine of the last 11 World Cup races - but Alexis Pinturault reminded everyone of his quality by winning the prestigious Wengen slalom on Sunday.
The previous day's downhill on the Lauberhorn was shortened due to the weather with home favourite Patrick Kueng taking his maiden win. Kueng is Switzerland's best hope of an Olympic downhill medal with Olympic champion Didier Defago, former World Cup champion Carlo Janka and Beat Feuz, the Wengen winner in 2012, struggling for form. Aksel Lund Svindal was third and the Norwegian powerhouse would have been favoured to take the success over a full-length course.
Triple world champion Ted Ligety had failed to complete five of his last seven races but won Friday's super-combined although unlike Sochi the slalom was held before the downhill, The American won the discipline in Turin in 2006 and, with only this race as way of form pre-Russia, will start as favourite.
The women's action in Cortina was postponed due to the weather but Mikaela Shiffrin won Tuesday's slalom in Flachau. Including the world championship the American teenager has now won eight of the last 10 top-flight races in that discipline.
With most of the big-name Norwegians and Russians missing from the final World Cup event before Sochi, it was Simon Schempp who put down a form marker with a double victory. The German recorded his maiden successes, tied with Italian Lukas Hober in the sprint, before winning the pursuit.
French World Cup leader Martin Fourcade was fifth and ninth and anchored his team to relay success, at least putting down a form marker against the Germans, Swedes and Austrians.
France also had reasons to cheer on the women's side with a maiden victory from Anaïs Bescond in the sprint. German veteran Andrea Hinkel remains one of the best shots in the business and followed up second in the 7.5km with pursuit victory. The 36-year-old won individual gold in Salt Lake City and will look to fill the breach left by double Vancouver champion Magdalena Neuner in Sochi.
It was a return to firm for Olympic favourite Steven Holcomb in Igls. The American, who won the first four two-man races of the season before Beat Hefti won in Winterberg and St Moritz, took the victory.
Holcomb was second in the four-man as Latvia's Oskars Melbardis followed up his victory in St Moritz on home ice.
Jamie Greubel became the fourth different winner in the women's World Cup this season aided by brakewoman Lauryn Williams who won Olympic sprint relay gold in London.
With no Scandinavians present at Szklarska Poreba there is not too much to be gleaned from the races but Justyna Kowalczyk cemented her reputation in the classic technique with a comfortable win in the 10km. She will start as favourite for that event on February 13.
The Pole was only 17th in the sprint as American Kikkan Randall made it back-to-back wins, beating big rival Denise Herrmann. The German has reached all seven World Cup sprint finals this season with five podium finishes.
The under-strength men's field saw Canada's Alex Hervey become the seventh different winner from seven sprints this season and that will be a wide-open event in Sochi.
It is a similar story in the distance events as Russia's Maxim Vylegzhanin became the 10th different winner from 10 races ahead of compatriot Evgeniy Belov.
Sheffield teenager Katie Summerhayes came second in the Slopestyle in Gstaad in just her second competition since returning from a knee injury. Josiah Wells became the fourth different men's winner this season although most of the top names across both genders were preparing for the Winter X Games.
Canada's Alexandre Bilodeau won the moguls in Lake Placid and Val St. Come as compatriot Mikaël Kingsbury missed the podium for the first time this season in New York. The pair look to go head-to-head for gold having evenly split this year's six events. The Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Justine and Chloe, shared the women's victories to underline their threat to World Cup leader Hannah Kearney.
There was also a Canadian win in the Ski Cross as Christopher Delbosco took day one victory before American John Teller followed up on day two in Val Thorens. Neither had been on the podium in the previous four World Cup races. The Maple Leaf was also raised as Marielle Thompson followed up Sanna Lüdi's win on the women's side.
Chinese Qi Guangpu and Li Nina won the Aerials in Lake Placid.
Hold the back pages, Germany did not win all four races in Altenberg. Felix Loch did make it three-in-a-row on the men's side, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt improved their record to six wins from eight in the doubles and Natalie Geisenberger made it seven from eight in the women's races.
However it went wrong in the team relay and the quartet had to settle for third behind Russia and Canada - the Olympic hosts had not finished higher than fourth in the previous five relays this season.
Eric Frenzel reinforced his status as Olympic favourite by winning all three stanzas at the Nordic Combined Triple in Seefeld.
It is now six wins from 10 this season for the German who is the defending World Cup champion and will be aiming for triple gold in Sochi. Johannes Rydzek's fifth, second and fourth place finishes will boost his relay hopes.
Britain's Lizzy Yarnold won her fourth World Cup race of the season, beating American arch-rival Noelle Pikus-Pace - who has won the other three - by .32 of a second in Igls. Fellow Brit Shelley Rudman was back in fifth.
Martins Dukurs made it four World Cup wins in a row on his home ice ahead of Russian Alexander Tretiakov.
No joy for World Cup leader Kamil Stoch at his home events in Wisla and Zakopane as he had to settle for second and 17th. Andreas Wellinger of Germany and Anders Bardal took their first victories of the season, meaning 13 different men have now topped the podium in 16 competitions this term.
As they did in the only previous World Cup team event this season, Slovenia beat Germany to top spot
It is nowhere nearly as competitive on the women's side where Sara Takanashi made it four from four on home snow in Japan and eight from nine on the season in Zao. American Sarah Hendrickson is still continuing her recovery from injury.
Austria's Lukas Mathies won the second giant slalom of the season, beating Zan Kosir - the Slovenian having also finished runner-up in the season opener. Tomoka Takeuchi of Japan also had a second, second place finish - trailing home Czech Ester Ledecka.
Ryo Aono and Rana Okada saw Japan complete a half pipe double in Stoneham while Maxence Parrot took a home Canadian win in the Slopestyle with Kiwi Christy Prior taking women's honours. Although like in Freestyle, few lessons can be drawn with a host of top names at the X Games. Finland's Petja Piiroinen claimed the Big Air victory.
Elsewhere in Figure Skating, Russia took eight of the 12 medals on offer at the European Championships in Budapest with 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia winning the women's title on her debut.
Spain's Javier Fernandez won the men's title to underline his potential as a challenger to Olympic favourite Patrick Chan while in the Ice Dance, Britain's Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland took bronze.
There were more medals for GB at the European Short Track Championships with Elise Christie taking silver behind Dutch skater Jorien Ter Mors. The Scot retained her 1000m title, was fourth in the 1500m and missed the 500m final. Russia's Victor An won the men's title.
On the longer oval, Dutchman Michel Mulder beat two-time Olympic gold medallist Shani Davis to the World Sprint Championships in Nagano, competed over two 500m and two 1000m races. Yu Jing led a Chinese 1-2 on the women's side.
- Sports & Recreation