LIENZ, Austria — Second sure isn’t bad for American Mikaela Shiffrin who secured her first of 12 World Cup podiums exactly two years ago to the day and also got to finish as runner-up to one of her all-time idols, Marlies Schild, in slalom on Sunday (Dec. 29).
“I’m just trying to ski my best, and I know that my best skiing is good enough to win or at least be on the podium. I really do love Lienz, it’s amazing here. (It) was my first World Cup podium, and now I’ve been second and third here, so it’s really wonderful to have been on the podium every time I’ve skied here. It’s a great slope,” said Shiffrin. “I always want to win, but (Marlies) skied better. She’s still one of my idols, and she inspires people. As long as I’m on the podium with her, I’m happy.”
Although Shiffrin was leading after first run, Schild produced exactly the kind of second run that has enabled her to become most winning female slalom skier in the history of the World Cup. With her 35th victory, Schild passed Vreni Schneider of Switzerland, with whom she previously shared the record for most slalom wins until today.
Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch was pleased with her podium result in third, as the finish keeps her in the hunt for the overall.
Fog rolled in and out all day, and light rainfall affected racers at different times. The course held up well through the end of first run with just a small groove, and despite the rain later running athletes were still able to punch into the flip like France’s Marion Bertrand who made a move from bib 63 and her teammate Anne-Sophie Barthet who also qualified from the 52nd start position to finish the race in 10th.
“The visibility was actually better than I thought it would be,” said Canadian Brittany Phelan. “I was watching the TV and the camera had plastic over it, so it looked worse than it was on course. I could see fine. The gates are so close in slalom that it was no big deal.”
Phelan scored the second best slalom result of her career, just one spot back from a 10th-place finish last season in Zagreb, Croatia. With two top-12 results, Phelan has now officially met the criteria for Olympic qualification on the Canadian team.
“It took me a while to get into it on top. I kind of thought going into the last pitch, ‘Well, you’re fit so you should be ok,’ so I knew I had to go for it on the bottom,” remarked Phelan. At each run nearly a minute in length, the piste in Lienz is one of the longest slalom courses for the women’s World Cup tour.
Phelan’s teammate Marie-Michele ‘Mitch’ Gagnon was also one spot shy of her career-best result in slalom, a third-place finish in Are in 2012. Gagnon has been a podium threat in GS, super-G and slalom all season, but she has come up short on each occasion. Her fourth in Lienz is her sixth top-10 this winter as well as her fourth top-6.
The U.S. Ski Team’s Resi Stiegler felt very much at home in her father’s village of Lienz, where she recorded her best result since a top-10 finish in Zagreb last season.
“We don’t get to race at home often. I consider Beaver Creek kind of like home because it’s our training space. Here in Lienz I get to stay at my own house, cook my own food. The town is so amazing, (the crowd) has always been amazing to me. So it’s special and it feels good,” said Stiegler.
Although she is showing signs of positive momentum, Stiegler has aspirations beyond just qualifying for second run. She was 21st after the first run and ultimately finished 16th, but she knows she belongs higher up in the results.
“I think it’s mental right now. I know I’m skiing a lot faster than just coming down in 21st after first run,” said Stiegler who started bib 40. “When you start outside of the 30, I think no matter what happens your mind is messing with you that you need to make second run. But then (this) isn’t where I want to be. I want to be in the top 15. Hopefully I can get back into the top 30 (on the start list) and then not be worrying about getting a second run.”
Shiffrin also appreciated the creativity that the town of Lienz employs to host the event. The prize ceremony on Saturday evening had the top three athletes in the giant slalom zip-line through the village square before the slalom bib draw required skiers to rodel down a ramp in order to collect their start numbers for Sunday’s race.
“Lienz has one of the best atmospheres. The crowd goes crazy, and the bib draw and awards ceremony last night were really creative,” remarked Shiffrin.
See more photos from the race in our gallery.
By Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup slalom, Lienz, Austria, Dec. 29, 2013
1 Schild, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Gagnon, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
6 Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Costazza, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Geiger, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Women’s World Cup slalom, Lienz, Austria, Dec. 29, 2013. … It is the 15th race of 32 on the women’s World Cup schedule. … The third of eight scheduled slaloms. … It is the 23rd World Cup race hosted at Lienz.
It is the 38th career World Cup victory for Marlies Schild. … her 35th in slalom matching her with Alberto Tomba for second all time, both genders, for most slalom wins… She trails only Ingemar Stenmark’s 40. … It is her second slalom win of the season. … It is her fifth World Cup win at Lienz.
It is the 12th career World Cup podium for Mikaela Shiffrin, her ninth in slalom. … It is her second scored slalom at Lienz having paced third in 2011. … It is her fourth podium of the season, second in slalom. … It is her second podium in two days having placed third in the Saturday GS. She had never finished second in a World Cup slalom previously.
It is the 76th career World Cup podium result for Maria Hoefl-Riesch… her 25th in slalom. … It is her fourth podium of the season and second in slalom.
It is the first World Cup top 4 for Marie-Michele Gagnon not scored on March 10, matching her second best career finish. … She was third in slalom at Are March 10, 2012 and also fourth at Ofterschwang’s slalom March 10, 2013. … It is her sixth top 10 of the season. …It is the ninth career scoring result for Bittany Phelan and her third best behind a ninth in Moscow’s City Event of 2013 and a tenth in Zagreb last season. … It is the fourth scoring finish in her father’s hometown for Resi Stiegler.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch takes control of the World Cup overall standings 611-609 over Tina Weirather (did not race). … Anna Fenninger (did not race) is third overall with 597pts. … Shiffrin is sixth with 414pts and Gagnon is ninth with 280pts. … Shiffrin holds a 202-200 lead in the slalom standings over Schild. … Frida Hansdotter (sixth in race) is third with 152pts. … Gagnon is fifth in the slalom standings with 135pts.
Austria leads the Women’s Nations Cup 2442-1549 over Switzerland with Sweden third at 1215pts. … The U.S. is sixth with 776pts and Canada tenth with 475pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|76||175041||LEMGART Charlotte Techen||1993||DAN|