Schild wins SL in Soldeu; Shiffrin top American (10th)
Courtesy of www.fisalpine.com
By Shauna Farnell
Soldeu-Grandvalira, Andorra (Sports Network) - Although it's been a very long time since Marlies Schild started the second run of a slalom race from any position other than in the lead, she showed the World Cup once again that she is the slalom queen for a reason.
The Austrian struggled with the aggressive snow and her skis on the non- injected course in the first run, finishing fifth with 0.74 seconds to make up but proceeded to burn up the course in run No. 2 to win her sixth race of the season on the very challenging Avet slope in Soldeu.
"I didn't get the right feeling in the first run, I was too aggressive with my material and technique, but I changed some things in the second run and that worked out really good," Schild said. "I'm very happy with my win. It's good to know for me that I can win a race when I am back."
Sweden's Frida Hansdotter notched the second podium of her World Cup career with two very strong runs, finishing the closest to Schild, 0.60 seconds back on Saturday as Kathrin Zettel reeled in her second podium of the season, taking third, 0.86 back.
The Avet course and the windy conditions accounted for several casualties in Saturday's race, most notably Tanja Poutiainen, who led the race after the first run and, as the final racer down the slope, was also leading the second until coming over the last steep pitch toward the finish when she said couldn't see the gates in the blowing snow and skied off-course.
"It was really bad visibility," the Finn said. "I got off the rhythm. Coming over the edge, there, you just don't see your skis."
German Christina Geiger, who was also on her way to a podium, leading the second run after finishing second to Poutiainen in the first run, crashed out just a few gates from the finish and Nicole Hosp, Manuela Moelgg and Sandrine Aubert also missed gates and went out in the second run, which featured a course set by Germany.
In the first run (set by Sweden), Olympic slalom champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch got hung up on a gate at the top of the course and narrowly avoided a crash. The German 2011 World Cup overall winner had a bad crash in training before coming to Andorra, badly bruising her ribs and left shoulder, but said with painkillers, her body felt OK while racing. Still, she was not happy to notch her third straight DNF (fourth this season, having only completed three races in which she was second, third and ninth) in what was once her strongest discipline.
"I'm really disappointed again to go out in the slalom," she said. "I'm skiing fast but I can't bring it down at the moment. It's really frustrating. I was in a good run, on a good line, but you hook a tip going so quickly in slalom, because of course you're looking for the tight way through the gates and if you're going a little bit too tight, you're out of the course."
Also, World Cup overall leader Lindsey Vonn - who has finished top 10 in three of the four slalom races she's completed this season and who received the most raucous applause of the whole field from the passionate crowd on Saturday - crashed just a few gates before the finish line in the first run.
"I got a little hung up. The snow is pretty aggressive. I just got a lot of rebound and wasn't able to control it," Vonn said. "I feel like I skied really well. This season has been good for me in slalom. I really liked [the snow and the course] but especially when it's so steep, it's hard to control the rebound of the skis because you can generate so much speed from turn to turn, also the skis are tuned for ice and it's difficult to control it."
Schild said that because of the aggressive conditions, when she crossed the finish line in the second run, she didn't feel at all certain that her lead (which was nearly a second at that time) would be enough for the victory.
"I always like to be in the lead after the first run, because then I know the things I did in the first run were OK and then I can be really aggressive in the second run. Today it was more difficult," she said. "I thought maybe I could get on the podium, I never thought I could win. Of course, Tanja did not finish, Christina Geiger did not finish ... I made a good run in the lower part of the course and it worked out really well."
Zettel on the other hand, felt she lost precious time in the final steep pitch of the course, which has a slope angle measuring 33 degrees.
"I had big problems in the last steep parts, I missed some tenths of seconds," she said. "So I'm happy with the third place today."
A slalom specialist, Hansdotter's only other World Cup podium came nearly three years ago in Ofterschwang. The Swede said she has felt strong skiing this season and was due for another top performance.
"It was a really good feeling to get this podium," Hansdotter said. "I've been skiing good. I'm really happy. I think it was good conditions today. I really liked it. I just went for it. I didn't notice the wind. I was just happy for the first run, I showed I can be up there on the top. It was nice to do one more of the second run."
OFFICIAL RESULTS - Soldeu-Grandvalira, Andorra
1. Marlies Schild, AUT, 1:39.44; 2. Frida Hansdotter, SWE, 1:40.04; 3. Kathrin Zettel, AUT, 1:40.30; 4. Nastasia Noens, FRA, 1:40.36; 5. Veronika Zuzulova, SVK, 1:40.66; 6. Therese Borssen, SWE, 1:40.67; 7. Lena Duerr, GER, 1:40.88; 8. Marie-Michele Gagnon, CAN, 1:41.00; 9. Michaela Kirchgasser, AUT, 1:41.14; 10. Mikaela Shiffrin, USA, 1:41.25.
Other North Americans
18. Erin Mielzynski, CAN, 1;42.91.
Did not finish 1st run
Anna Goodman, CAN; Lindsey Vonn, USA
Did not qualify 1st run
Resi Stiegler, USA, Elli Terwiel, CAN; Julia Mancuso, USA
02/11 10:58:18 ET