At the tail end of a season that has been dominated by one woman (Marlies Schild) World Cup women’s slalom racing was shaken up today (March 4) as two North American racers who had never been on a podium claimed the top two spots.
Canadian 21-year-old Erin Mielzynsky had the race of her life to not only claim the first World Cup top-10 finish of her career but win by five hundredths of a second over American Resi Stiegler, who had never been on a World Cup podium and hadn’t recorded a top-10 finish since December of 2007. Schild, winner of all but one of this season’s previous slalom races, finished third to clinch her fourth World Cup slalom with an untouchable 299-point lead.
The day’s two runs told two very different stories as none of the top four finishers in the first run finished better than sixth. Mielzynsky, whose previous career best finishes were a pair of 13th-place results over the last two seasons, stood fifth after the first run with 0.60 seconds to make up. She navigated the 66-gate course masterfully to just bump Stiegler out of the leader’s box but couldn’t have imagined that she had done enough to win.
“I’ve worked really hard this year and past years. I’ve battled with my confidence and so many things but I just needed to put two together and today I did that,” said Mielzynski, who became the first Canadian woman to win a World Cup slalom since Betsy Clifford did it in 1971. “I didn’t do anything different, my goal for today was to try to race like I train every single day and I think that is what I figured out today.”
Just a day after scoring her first World Cup GS points in more than four years (22nd in yesterday’s GS) Stiegler came all the way from the 35th start today to finish the first run in ninth place, 0.82 seconds behind the leader. She held an aggressive, tight line in the second run and crossed the line with the leading time and burst into joyous screaming and fist pumping then settled in to watch her time beat both Schild and defending overall champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch. Stielger, the the hadn’t recorded a top-10 finish in any World Cup discipline since December of 2007, when she was struck with a chain of injuries that kept her away from skiing for most of the next three seasons. “Thank you to all of you who have supported me all these years,” Stiegler shouted into the TV cameras after being hoisted to her teammates shoulders in the finish area.
“Today was huge, obviously I’m ecstatic about it,” said Stiegler. “I’ve worked really hard for this, results are difficult to get even if you are skiing really fast. I’ve had a really hard year mentally and I don’t know why it came together today but I think it could have come together all year and it was just waiting for this one day.”
For the third day in a row, conditions in the Bavarian Mountains were sunny, warm and slushy. More that 400 course workers were brought in to spread chemicals and do everything else possible to maintain a skiable surface.
The faltering of the first run leaders began with American 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, who arrived in Ofterschwang from her appearance at the FIS Alpine World Junior Championships. Shiffrin was tied for third after the first run and skied three quarters of the second run extremely well before making a costly mistake at the bottom of the course. The error knocked of her rhythm and Shiffrin one of the last few gates and had to hike for a 27th-place scoring result.
With a 0.35-second advantage, first run leader Slovenian Tina Maze looked poised to take her first win of the season after finishing runner-up six times this year but the soft second run course tripped her up early and she skied off line at the top if the course.
The Canadian team got even more good news from fifth-place finisher Marie-Michele Gagnon, who nearly fell twice in her second run but held on to tie her best World Cup finish ever. Anna Goodman got the energy going early for her team as the first woman out of the second run gate in 30th after the first run. She worked her way up to finish 17th.
The first run course claimed 12 DNFs including Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser and overall World Cup leader, American Lindsey Vonn who crashed after straddling a gate in the middle of the course.
Americans Julia Mancuso and Hailey Duke did not qualify for the second run in 45th and 46th, respectively.
The women’s World Cup tour now heads to Are, Sweden for the final giant slalom and slalom races of the regular season next weekend before World Cup finals in Schladming, Austria.
MORE TO COME
by Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup slalom, Ofterschwang, Germany, March 4, 2012
1 Mielzynski, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2 Stiegler, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
3 Schild, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Poutiainen, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
5 Gagnon, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
6 Duerr, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
7 Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Borssen, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
10 Hosp, Fischer/Fischer/Marker
Women’s World Cup slalom, Ofterschwang, Germany, March 4, 2012. … It is the 31st of 38 races on the women’s 2012 World Cup schedule. … It is the eighth of 10 scheduled slaloms. … It is the third and final event at Ofterschwang this season. … It is the 14 Cup race scheduled at Ofterschwang, the sixth slalom.
It is the first career World Cup win for Erin Mielzynski. … her first podium. … her first top 10. … and just her ninth score, all in slalom. … Her previous best had been 13th scored at Arber-Zwiesel Feb. 4, 2011 and at Courchevel Dec. 17, 2011. … It is the first Canadian slalom win since Betsy Clifford at Schruns Jan. 21, 1971 and is the sixth Canadian Cup slalom win in World Cup history.
It is the first career World Cup podium result for Resi Stiegler. … her previous best finish is fourth accomplished three times, in slalom at Are March 17, 2006 and Reiteralm Nov 10, 2007 and in combined at Zauchensee Jan. 14, 2007. … Her best previous result this season had been 22nd the previous day in GS.
It is the 62nd career World Cup podium result for Marlies Schild. … the 50th in slalom. … It is her third career podium at Ofterschwang and second third place finish. … It is her seventh podium result of the season (all in slalom) and the first that is not a win.
North Americans: Marie-Michele Gagnon matches her career best World Cup result, the previous 5th scored in GS at St Moritz Dec. 12, 2010. … Her previous best at Ofterschwang had been 8th in slalom March 7, 2009. … The last time Canadian women had two top five finishers in a World Cup slalom was Nancy Greene (1) and Gerrie Mathieson (5) at Jackson Hole March 26, 1967. … It is the sixth best career Cup result for Anna Goodman. … her second best of the season after an 11th at Courchevel Dec. 17. … It is the fifth career top 30 Cup finish for Mikaela Shiffrin. … She did not gain points after hiking.
Standings: Lindsey Vonn (DNF 1st) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 1708-1214 over Tina Maze (DNF 2nd). … Maria Hoefl-Riesch (ninth in race) is third overall with 1075pts. … Julia Mancuso (DNQ) holds fifth wi
th 833pts. … Gagnon is top Canadian overall in 23rd with 267pts. … Schild wins the 2012 slalom title. … She leads the standings 660-361 over Maze with two races remaining and cannot be overtaken. … Michaela Kirchgasser (DNF 1st) is third with 334pts. … Mielzynski moves up to 13th in the slalom rankings to lead Canada with 173pts. … Shiffrin leads the US in 17th with 118pts. … Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 4978-3317 over the US. … Italy is third with 2465. … Canada is tenth at 537pts.
Images by Gepa
|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|
|65||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|64||35079||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG|
|54||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR|