It was a good day for the Austrians and an even better day for the Schilds.
Sisters Marlies and Bernadette Schild shared the podium in Courchevel, France on Tuesday, finishing first and third, respectively. For the older, Marlies, it’s her first solid result since taking most of last season off with an injury. For the younger, Bernadette, who was fastest in the day’s first of two runs, it’s just her second career podium; the other came at World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland last season.
The Austrians really dominated the day. If it were not for Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, who scooped up second, the federation could have swept the podium. They finished four in the top five and six in the top 10.
After finishing a relatively distant eighth in Levi, slalom specialist Hansdotter is certainly pleased with the result, but at the same time must be banging her head against the wall. The 28-year-old Swede has never won a World Cup, but has finished in the runner-up position seven times since 2009 — four times last season alone.
The story of the day, however, is certainly the return to form by Marlies Schild, 32, who became the oldest slalom winner in ladies’ World Cup history, surpassing Tanja Poutiainen by nearly two years. It was Schild’s 34th World Cup slalom victory, which ties the ladies’ record set by Vreni Schneider, and her first since February 2012. She’s been especially dominant in France, where she’s won the last three slaloms.
“I didn’t expect this before the race because I had no race rhythm. My real last race was a long time ago, over one year. It’s amazing,” Schild said after the win. “(Bernadette) did so well in training runs this year and it’s so great for her. I’m so happy for her. Of course, I’m happy that I’m in front of her, but I think it will be very tough this season to keep that.”
For Bernadette, there’s definitely room for improvement as a couple mistakes on the upper part of the course likely cost her the win, but she skied the bottom very solid to secure the podium. Likewise, Hansdotter actually got her pole stuck between her skis in the upper part of the run, but she too was able to recover and put together a smooth lower section.
Coming into this race with a win under her belt in the slalom opener in Levi, American Mikaela Shiffrin did not make any major mistakes; she simply didn’t look like herself, a little lethargic and out of rhythm. Despite a first-run set by her coach, Roland Pfeifer, Shiffrin finished 12th but retains the lead in the slalom standings by 10 points over Hansdotter.
“It’s obvious she was out of energy,” said Pfeifer. “She had it yesterday already and she wasn’t able to just get the battery charged. … It happens, you know? You’re not feeling everyday the same. We shouldn’t blame it on travel. … It just happens. We have to find out why she was really out of energy. … She just really had a bad day today and probably won’t be the last time she has it.”
“Not my best day,” said Shiffrin. “I didn’t have a great feeling. I was just a bit nervous. Sometimes I don’t get that great feeling I want in the morning. I thought I had that today but it didn’t go that way.”
It was another strong performance by Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon, who now holds top-10 finishes in three different disciplines this season. Slalom has historically been her favorite. On Tuesday, it was a clean run, but she wasn’t quite able to generate enough speed in the middle part of the course to hang onto the podium — she finished sixth.
“I’m showing consistency. I’m excited,” said Gagnon. “I really feel like I’m in a magical moment right now. … It was not an easy one today, that’s for sure. Especially with not training slalom for a long time, I just wanted to make it down…”
“Everything is going according to plan and I’m building,” Gagnon said. “I was almost there two days ago in St. Moritz – almost a podium. I didn’t think I would be getting top-10s in super-G – that was a nice surprise. The main thing is to be consistent. I’m proving to myself that I can push and still finish. … I just passed 500 points on the World Cup start list – I think I’m at 506,” she added. “That’s huge – it’s a really big deal for us.”
Kathrin Zettel and Michaela Kirchgasser rounded out the Austrian representation in the top five. Neither skied a perfect run: Zettel nearly straddled and Kirchgasser scrubbed at one point, but it was enough to hang on for their best results of the season, thus far.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who came into the event second in the overall standings, was potentially looking to make a move on leader Lara Gut. Instead, she straddled first run and filed a protest that she was distracted by a gatekeeper’s cell phone, but the jury did not award her another run.
American Resi Stiegler was pleased to qualify for second run. She finished 21st, her best World Cup result in seven races.
“I’m happy for some points, but I’m ready for some more,” said Stiegler. “I needed the confidence because I’ve been just a little nervous with the beginning of the year — and Levi was kind of annoying.”
Stiegler said she’s planning to race the GS in Val d’Isere to see where she stacks up. Her main focus, however, will be on slalom for the rest of the season.
Canadian Erin Mielzynski had the green light at the first interval but slid out on her hip after pressuring the inside ski. She failed to finish.
Other notable first run crashes included the winner over the weekend in St. Moritz, Tessa Worley, who slid through an advertisement banner and originally appeared uninjured. She was later taken to a hospital in Lyon for evaluation of a suspected right knee injury.
See the race photo gallery here.
By Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup Slalom, Courchevel, France, Dec. 17, 2013
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Schild, M. Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Schild, B. Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Gagnon, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
7 Thalmann, Head/Head/Head
8 Loeseth, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
9 Holdener, Head/Head/Head
10 Daum, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Women’s World Cup slalom, Courchevel, France, Dec. 17. 2013. … It is the 11th of 32 races on the women’s 2013-14 World Cup schedule. … The second of eight scheduled slaloms. … It is just the fifth World Cup race held at Courchevel… and the third slalom. The site first hosted a GS in 1979.
It is the 37th career World Cup win for Marlies Schild… a World Cup women’s record 34th in slalom. … It is her first win since Feb. 11, 2012 when she won the slalom at Soldeu-Grandvalira. … It is her third win at Courchevel, the others each in slalom, coming Dec. 21, 2010 and Dec. 18, 2011. … She is tied with Vreni Schneider to lead all women and sit behind Alberto Tomba (35) and Ingemar Stenmark (40) for slalom wins.
It is the seventh World Cup podium for Frida Hansdotter… all of them second places and all of them in slalom (three times behind Mikaela Shiffrin, twice behind Schild). She has never won nor finished third in a World Cup slalom.
It is the second career World Cup podium result for Bernadette Schild, the other coming in slalom at last season’s World Cup Finals at Lenzerheide. … Two of her top five placings have come at Courchevel.
Marie-Michele Gagnon matches her fifth best career slalom placing. … It is her fourth top-10 result of the season, her second in slalom. … It is the 16th World Cup slalom result for Mikaela Shiffrin and her worst slalom finish since she was 15th at Schladming March 17, 2012. … It is the eighth career World Cup result for Brittany Phelan, seventh in slalom (plus one city event). … It is the 58th World Cup scoring result for Resi Stiegler. … the first since Jan. 27, 2013 at Maribor.
Lara Gut (did not race) maintains the lead of the women’s World Cup overall standings 482-461 over Maria Hoefl-Riesch. … Tina Weirather is third with 445. … Shiffrin in sixth with 242pts. … Gagnon is 11th with 197pts.
Shiffrin maintains the lead of the slalom standings 122-112 over Hansdotter. … Marlies Schild moves to third with 100pts. … Gagnon is fourth with 85pts.
Austria bumps its lead in the women’s Nations Cup to 1918-1162 over Switzerland. … Sweden is third with 849pts. … The U.S. is sixth at 554pts and Canada tenth at 338pts.
|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|