The ladies haven’t raced a World Cup giant slalom since Dec. 28. To say a lot has happened since then would be an understatement.
For starters, Tina Maze seems to have reclaimed some of her remarkable form a year ago. With a pair of Olympic gold medals (and perhaps some renewed confidence) under her belt, Maze crushed the first run of GS in Are, Sweden and advanced into the early-evening second run with a nearly half-second lead over the field.
But she couldn’t hold it together. Despite a momentary celebration and perhaps an assumed podium as she crossed the finish line, the Slovenian squandered a 0.88-second advantage over the Olympic silver medalist in this event. Anna Fenninger, seventh after the first leg of the race, was simply able to put the best two runs together for the win on Thursday.
“I was only eight-tenths behind in the first run, and I was just thinking I have to have fun on the slope and try my best,” said Fenninger. “Now it’s a victory and I can’t believe because it was a very tough race … It’s very warm, but the slope was very good. The salt (worked) good. It’s hard enough to have good conditions.”
Fenninger’s result makes more interesting the race for both the GS and overall titles, which will be settled over the course of the next week. In the giant slalom standings, Fenninger creeped up on the host nation’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, who skied to sixth and whose lead shrank to 372-318 with two contests remaining. The GS race continues tomorrow under the lights in Are.
In the overall standings, it was a lackluster day for current leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch. Like many others in the race, the German appeared exhausted but was certainly hoping to pick up more than 10 points — she finished 21st. Hoefl-Riesch’s lead over Fenninger shrank by 90 points — she now holds just a 67 point advantage over Fenninger (1118-1051).
Further on down the podium, it was a day of firsts. With a second-place result, France’s Anemone Marmottan picked up her first career top-three in a World Cup event. Similarly so, Eva-Maria Brem, who was left off Austria’s Olympic roster, earned her career-first podium — she tied Lara Gut for third.
It was uneventful day for Americans Mikaela Shiffrin and Julia Mancuso, both of whom made post-Olympic trips to North America in part to appear on late-night TV shows. They joined the ranks of other top racers who looked completely spent. Shiffrin did not make any major errors but lost time in her second run to finish 15th on the day. Mancuso appeared to rather be somewhere else — she finished 28th.
Fresh off dislocating her shoulder in the first race of the Olympic Winter Games, Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon was quickest for North Americans, finishing 13th in the Are opener.
“The first run I skied solid but I was far back. The second run was better. I’m hoping to carry that into tomorrow,” said Gagnon, who was 16th after the first run. “I’m happy I turned it around a little bit.”
Hugues Ansermoz, head coach of Canada’s ladies’ team, was content with what he saw from Gagnon Thursday and is hoping she will continue to build momentum in the next two events.
“We had good training and she skied pretty solid, especially in the second run,” Ansermoz said. “With her going out in races and the injury, the two giant slaloms are a good chance for her (to rebuild confidence). Thirteenth place, we will take. We have to fight for every point. We will try to make one more step tomorrow and get a little closer.”
By Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup giant slalom, Are, Sweden, March 6, 2014
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Fenninger, Head/Head/Head
2 Marmottan, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Gut, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
5 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
6 Lindell-Vikarby, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Brignone, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
10 Moelgg, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
Women’s World Cup giant slalom, Are, Sweden, March 6, 2014. … Replaces race postponed from Kranjska Gora. … It is the 26th of 32 races on the original women’s schedule… There ae six races remaining. … It is the seventh of nine GS’s. … and the first of two being held at Are this season. … It is the 87th World Cup race hosted by Are… the 28th GS.
It is the sixth career World Cup win for Anna Fenninger… the fifth in GS. … It is her third win of the season including the Olympic super G gold medal. … She has not finished worse than eighth in any GS this season.
It is the first career World Cup podium for Anemone Marmottan, though she had previously been forth twice (St. Moritz GS Dec. 12, 2010 and Arber-Zweisell March 9, 2011). … Her previous best this season had been fifth at St. Moritz GS Dec. 15.
It is the first career World Cup podium for Eva-Marie Brem… her previous best a fourth in GS at Ofterschwang March 9, 2013. … It is the 15th World Cup podium for Lara Gut… her fifth in GS. … It is her eighth podium of the season, including an Olympic bronze in GS from Sochi, and third in GS.
It is the career best GS result (of two) at Are for Marie-Michele Gagnon and matches her third best GS result of the season. … It is the 12th career World Cup GS scoring finish for Mikaela Shiffrin. … It is the 17th World Cup scoring result of the season for Julia Mancuso… the fourth in GS.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch (21st in race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 1118-1051 over Fenninger. … Tina Weirather (did not race) is third with 943pts. … Mikaela Shiffrin is sixth overall with 666pt and Marie-Michele Gagnon in ninth with 473pts.
Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (sixth in race) maintains the lead of the giant slalom standings 372-318 over Fenninger with two races remaining. … The top nine in the GS standings still have a mathematical chance to win the title. … Shiffrin is sixth with 228pts and Gagnon 17th with 99pts.
Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 4828-2612 over Switzerland. Sweden is third with 2236pts. … The U.S. is sixth at 1509 and Canada 11th with 762pts.
RESULTS — Women’s Giant Slalom, Are, Sweden
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|59||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|