LIENZ, Austria — Traditional European World Cup conditions returned for racing on Saturday (Dec. 28) in Lienz,, but only a few of the world’s best giant slalom skiers were prepared for the injection they encountered. Technically sound skiing was rewarded, and the crowd roared for the home favorite as Anna Fenninger overtook Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in the second run to claim victory. American Mikaela Shiffrin produced the second GS podium in her youthful career, advancing from fourth after first run to finish third.
“I’m normally pretty comfortable within half a second on a first run,” said Shiffrin. “It’s always better to come down and feel like you separated yourself from everybody, but I’m not quite there in GS. As long as I am in this position where I can really attack I’m psyched with that.”
With Fenninger’s win, she becomes the first skier in history to claim two victories on the challenging course in Lienz after also winning in 2011.
“Of course I love Lienz,” said Fenninger. “I don’t feel like anything special on this day, the 28th of December, but I had good memories from two years ago and last year in Semmering. It was just a good feeling, and I tried to see positives in all the people cheering on.”
“We had not that much (GS) training with all the speed races, but now I had two training days before the race. I didn’t know how good I am or that I could win, I just tried to have really good memories,” she added.
The slope in Liez was prepared well in advance of the race weekend, but significant snowfall on Thursday required organizers to re-inject the hill on Friday afternoon, delaying the free ski until Saturday morning after the course was set. Some athletes had a tricky time adjusting to the conditions that were noticeably different from Colorado, St. Moritz, and Val d’Isere.
The second run proved problematic for the other North American skiers who qualified. Top Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon was able to move from 30th after first run to finish 20th, but that’s well shy of her other performances so far this season, including finishing 10th in Soelden.
“It’s pretty rough injection, for sure, especially if you’re skiing under the gate which is pretty much what I did the whole way down. You get the worst of it. I think the girls who were just a little above it were able to go down the fall line and not have as hard of a time. … I just couldn’t get the right timing or the right flow. I think it’s partly because we haven’t had ice and not having the best mindset and plan of attack,” said Gagnon. “I was pretty confident (after the free ski), but once I got on the course I just couldn’t move like I wanted to.”
The U.S. Ski Team’s Julia Mancuso also struggled with the conditions, never really finding her flow, and finished 29th. She will now take a planned break back in the U.S. before returning to compete in the speed series Jan. 11-12 in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria. Mancusco was followed by Canadian Marie-Pier Prefontaine in 30th.
“I watched the top 8, and I noticed that if you were moving well everything was fine. The whole way down I thought move, move, and I think I even screamed it out loud,” noted Prefontaine. “I know the girl in front of me went out, so I knew it was going to be bumpy but I just had to keep moving.”
Others didn’t mind the slope as much.
“It’s probably the most injected course so far this season. It turned out really well, especially since it snowed. It’s a little bit bumpy which kind of gets in your head, but if you get your skis on edge you’ll arc through it,” remarked Shiffrin before adding, “I think it’s awesome.”
American skier Megan McJames straddled three gates from the finish line in the first run and crashed hard, but she got up on her own and was able to walk around in the finish area. Canadian slalom specialist Erin Mielzynski hooked her arm in a panel and crashed as well, failing to finish the first run, but she, too, was uninjured.
Austria had a solid day with Kathrin Zettel finishing fourth, and the Italians turned heads by placing six skiers in the top 15 including Francesca Marsaglia who finished 12th from bib 50.
The women’s World Cup races are held on alternating years in Liez, as last season’s post-Christmas technical events were hosted in Semmering. The women’s slalom follows tomorrow in the Austrian town which has plenty of snow, but another slalom scheduled for Jan. 4 in Zagreb, Croatia was cancelled due to insufficient snow and warming temperatures. The organizing committee is now seeking an alternate venue.
“Last time I was in Lienz, I didn’t have a great GS race but I had a pretty good slalom race, so I’m really excited for tomorrow. … I’m just thinking day-by-day and trying to put my best skiing out there. I feel like I always leave something on the hill, and I don’t want to do that anymore,” concluded Shiffrin.
See more photos from the race in our gallery.
By Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup giant slalom, Lienz, Austria, Dec. 28, 2013
Equipment - Skier, skis/boots/bindings
2 Lindell-Vikarby, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
6 Brignone, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
7 Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Marmottan, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Women’s World Cup giant slalom, Lienz, Austria, Dec. 28, 2013. …
It is the 14th of 32 races on the women’s World Cup schedule. …The fifth of eight scheduled GS’s. It is the 22nd World Cup race hosted at Lienz… the tenth GS and the eighth women’s GS. … The only U.S. winner of a women’s GS at Lienz remains Judy Nagel from 1969.
It is the fifth career World Cup win for Anna Fenninger… her fourth in GS and her second in GS at Lienz where she celebrated her first World Cup victory Dec. 28, 2011. … It her fifth podium result of the season. … In 11 races she has missed the top 10 only once.
It is the sixth career World Cup podium for Jessica Lindell-Vikarby… her third in GS. … It is her third podium of the season, all in GS.
It is the 11th career World Cup podium for Mikaela Shiffrin… her second in GS. … It is her third podiuim of the season in six races completed.
It is the eighth scoring finish of the season for Marie-Michele Gagnon, her fourth best in GS. … The tenth scoring finish of the season for Julia Mancuso and the fourth for Marie-Pier Prefrontaine, all in GS.
Tina Weirather (17th in race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 609-597 over Fenninger. … Lara Gut (DNF in race) is third with 568pts. … Shiffrin leads the U.S. in seventh with 334pts. … Gagnon leads the Canadians in 13th with 230pts.
Jessica Lindell-Vikarby maintains the lead of the GS standings 332-222 over Maria Pietilae-Holmner (seventh in race) . … Weirather is third with 219pts. … Shiffrin is sixth with 216pts and Gagnon 16th with 79pts.
To view photos from this race click here.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|67||175041||LEMGART Charlotte Techen||1993||DAN|
|Did not finish 1st run|