Sarah Schleper wins Finals slalom as Poutiainen takes discipline titleSarah Schleper of the United States won the final World Cup slalom of the season today at Lenzerheide, Switzerland, holding on to a first-run lead. Janica Kostelic of Croatia was second, and Niki Hosp of Austria third.
“I’ve always wanted to win a World Cup and now I’m a winner. It’s probably one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had,” said Schleper.
Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, who finished fifth in the race, clinched the slalom discipline title in January.
This title once went to Vreni Schneider of Switzerland four times in a row (1992-1995). Since then it has changed hands every year, from Elfi Eder of Austria (1996) to Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden (1997), Ylva Nowen of Sweden (1998), Sabine Egger of Austria (1999), Spela Pretnar of Slovenia (2000), Janica Kostelic of Croatia (2001), Laurie Pequenot of France (2002), Kostelic again in 2003 and Anja Paerson of Sweden in 2004.
“Between runs, I just tried to stay cool. I didn’t want to stress,” Schleper added. “Janica [Kostelic] said to me before the run, at the start, ‘Is this your first time leading after the first run? Your first time in the hot seat?’ I don’t know if she was trying to psyche me. I had so many butterflies.”
Coach Trevor Wagner said Schleper had learned to deal with the pressure of winning a first run.
“She’s always been such a great skier, with such great speed, and she’s finally found the technique and everything’s coming together, so we can do some real damage now with her speed.”
Kostelic, he said, “tried to play the game and Schlep showed who’s who. They [the Croatians] thought having her father set the course was going to seal the deal. He sets very closed gates – very close together, 8.25 to 8.5 meters in places – we seldom see that tight a course and, obviously, they set it for her.”
Wagner continued, “But Sarah handled it – the pressure, the course…all of it, and Janica and all of them were very gracious in the finish, coming over to shake her hand and all. It’s an incredible day,” Wagner said. The course, he said, “is flat medium, a mini-pitch at the bottom – just three or four gates, and the rest is rolling terrain, fast to medium terrain.”
Why the season turned out this way…
Poutiainen kicked off strong, winning slalom races in Aspen and Altenmarkt. By late January, she had clinched the title, racking up an insurmountable lead by winning the night-slalom in Zagreb, Croatia. Three weeks later, she was second behind Kostelic in the world championship slalom in Italy.
Poutiainen is from Finland, but she lives in this part of Switzerland, often training at Lenzerheide with her private coach.
The World Cup season comes to an end tomorrow, with men’s slalom and women’s giant slalom. Paerson leads the women’s GS discipline standings with a 480-381 lead over Poutiainen, which mean that Paerson only needs to finish second to be mathematically assured of the title, or worse than that if Poutiainen finishes outside of the points.
The overall World Cup title will also be decided. The most prestigious trophy in the sport, Paerson won it last year. On Sunday, she will come into the race with a 77-point lead on Janica Kostelic.
Click on these links to see results from each of this year’s World Cup slaloms:
Aspen, USA (winner: Janica Kostelic, CRO)
Aspen, USA (winner: Tanja Poutiainen, FIN)
Altenmarkt, AUT (winner: Tanja Poutiainen, FIN)
Semmering, AUT (winner: Marlies Schild, AUT)
Santa Caterina, ITA (winner: Marlies Schild, AUT)
Zagreb, CRO (winner: Tanja Poutiainen, FIN)
Maribor, SLO (winner: Anja Paerson, SWE)
Lenzerheide, SUI (winner:Sarah Schleper, USA)
World Cup Finals
March 12, 2005
1. Sarah Schleper, USA 1:29.13
2. Janica Kostelic, CRO 1:29.47
3. Nicole Hosp, AUT 1:30.03
4. Martina Ertl, GER 1:30.11
4. Tanja Poutiainen, FIN 1:30.11
6. Nika Fleiss, CRO 1:30.30
7. Lindsey Kildow, USA 1:30.40
8. Julia Mancuso, USA 1:30.76
9. Kathrin Zettel, AUT 1:30.77
10. Anja Paerson, SWE 1:30.89
11. Henna Raita, FIN 1:31.22
12. Christelle Pascal, FRA 1:31.29
13. Laure Pequegnot, FRA 1:31.38
14. Florine DeLeymarie, FRA 1:31.57
15. Sabine Egger, AUT 1:31.62
16. Kristina Koznick, USA 1:31.71
17. Ana Jelusic, CRO 1:32.11
18. Therese Borssen, SWE 1:32.24
19. Elisabeth Goergl, AUT 1:33.96
other North Americans:
DNF 2nd: Resi Steigler, USA.
By Hank McKee
Women’s Slalom, Lenzerheide, Switzerland, March 12, 2005
1 Schleper, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
2 Kostelic, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Hosp, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
4 Ertl, Rossignol/Nordica/Rossignol
4 Poutiainen, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
6 Fleiss, Dynamic/Salomon/Salomon
7 Kildow, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Mancuso, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Paerson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Women’s Slalom, Lenzerheide, Switzerland, March 12, 2005. … It is the 32nd event of a 33 event women’s World Cup schedule. … It is the eighth of 8 slaloms. … Winning margin is .34 of a second. … Sixth place is more than a second out.
It is the first career World Cup win for Sarah Schleper. … She becomes the 31st American to win at least one World Cup race. …It is the 10th U.S. win this season. … and the third in two days. … It is Schleper’s first podium of the season. … She had been fourth twice this season – in GS at Semmering and Slalom at Maribor. … She won both runs.
It is the 38th career Cup podium for Janica Kostelic. … Her ninth of the season. … She has been 2nd five times this season.
It is the 15th career podium for Nicole Hosp. …Her second of the season, the other coming at Are 2/20 in GS.
It is the 15th top 10 result this season for Lindsey Kildow. … It is a career best Cup slalom result. … It is also the career best slalom result for Julia Mancuso. … And her 12th top 10 of the season. … It is the poorest placing in a completed slalom this season for Kristina Koznick.
Anja Paerson (10th in race) clings to the World Cup overall standings lead by 35; 1359-1324 over Janica Kostelic with one race remaining (GS). … Paerson will win the overall title if she finishes second in the final race even if Kostelic wins. … Lindsey Kildow is the top American on the overall standings list in 6th with 914pts. … Tanja Poutiainen (tied for 4th in race) won the women’s slalom title 1/23 in Maribor, Slovenia. … Kostelic finishes second 570-400 with Marlies Schild (1st run DNF) in third. … Kristina Koznick (16th in race) is fourth on the final slalom list with 355 and Schleper fifth at 423.