Stiegler questionable as women receive start positionsTina Maze of Slovenia will be the first skier on course in the 2005-06 alpine World Cup season, which begins on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Soelden, Austria. Starting second will be Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley, California. Mancuso’s teammate Resi Stiegler may not start because of a fall she took while training on Friday.
Trevor Wagner, head women’s GS/SL coach for the U.S. Ski Team, said conditions were difficult during some official training that took place on the Rettenbach glacier on Friday.
‘It was kind of nasty up there’ Wagner said. ‘Resi fell and banged up her shin pretty bad.’
Stiegler, who had hoped for a top 15, will make the decision in the morning whether or not she’ll start the race. If the pain at the cuff of her boot is not too bad, she’ll run 50th, when ruts should be forming in the icy track.
‘They’ve been spraying it with a hose’ Wagner said. ‘It’s the ancient form of injection.’
Americans and their start positions are as follows: Mancuso (2), Sarah Schleper (17), Kristina Koznick (19), Lindsey Kildow (31), Kristen Mielke (35), Jessica Kelley (38), Stiegler (50), Lauren Ross (52), Kaylin Richardson (59) and Stacey Cook (63).
‘I’m really looking forward to getting back into a race, and it’s such a fun race’ Schleper said. ‘It’s the first race of the year, it’s fun to throw yourself into a challenging race situation.’
Soelden is one of the most difficult of the nine giant slaloms on the women’s calendar. But this year the snow is an unknown factor.
‘Last night we had only a few hours of low temperatures’ said FIS World Cup race director Guenter Hujara, worried that holes will develop on the steep track. ‘We expect some clear sky and colder temperatures. We hope that no precipitation will be arriving from the south.’
As the winner of last year’s giant slalom discipline title, Tanja Poutiainen of Finland is expected to wear the red bib reserved for leaders of the standings.
Anja Paerson of Sweden won last year’s race here.
Tomorrow is the first race of a season that will last 21 weeks before ending, in mid-March, at World Cup Finals. Between now and those events (in Are, Sweden) there are 37 women’s races at 15 venues in 13 countries. The men have 39 races at 18 venues in 11 countries.