Not much has changed since the women’s giant slalom last week at the Vail/Beaver Creek FIS Alpine World Championships. Anna Fenninger again bested the field, finishing 0.04 seconds ahead of Viktoria Rebensburg, to finish in the same order as a week ago. Tina Weirather had her best GS showing of the season to round out the podium in third.
Fenninger skied a clean and flawless first run, but had to use every ounce of speed and strength to pull out the win after a mistake early in run two left her with a 0.47-second deficit at the final interval.
“Yeah I feel good about that (finding speed on the bottom) because on the top I had a little mistake on the flat. I was outside the line so I tried to push, but in the middle section I felt not so good,” said Fenninger. “So I thought ‘all or nothing’ and I did, it’s so cool.”
The moderate hill and relatively easy course sets left tight times, with less than a second separating the top 10 after run one. Fenninger only had a slim margin of 0.03 seconds over Rebensburg and after falling behind by almost half a second it appeared as if the German would win her first GS race since 2012. But Fenninger was not about to let it get away that easily. She somehow found an extra gear and risked it all down the final pitch into the finish to make up the time and squeak out her second GS World Cup win of the season and third win in the event after taking the World Championship title last week.
“Yeah it’s fantastic again. I’m proud of it because today it was very difficult to hold the speed and show what I can (do),” admitted Fenninger. “So I’m really happy that I can show it here because the crowd is so big and so cool. Thanks for a great race.”
The warm conditions in the second run were reminiscent of the spring-like weather athletes saw over their two weeks spent in Colorado. Rebensburg, who was somewhat of a surprise silver medalist in GS despite winning eight races in the discipline between 2010-12, appears to have found her GS groove again with her second consecutive second-place finish. She skied a precise and solid run to take the lead away from Weirather at the time, but left a little too much on the hill on the bottom pitch and Fenninger took advantage.
“Being on the podium is for sure always nice,” said Rebensburg. “Four hundredths of a second, this isn’t much and it hurt a little bit in the first place, but I am happy about this second place. I am skiing good in giant slalom again. I was struggling a bit at the start of the season. It is very positive for me to know I can be up there in giant slalom again. It gives me confidence for the rest of the season.”
Because of the tight times after run one, there was a lot of movement in placing on run two. Mikaela Shiffrin and Federica Brignone were tied for third, but both were unable to match the clean and aggressive skiing of Fenninger, Rebensburg and Weirather. Shiffrin ultimately ended up fifth and Brignone moved back to eighth. Weirather, sitting in seventh after run one, was able to overtake Kathrin Zettel (sixth overall) and Nadia Fanchini (fourth overall), in addition to Shiffrin and Brignone, with the fastest second run to finish third. It is her first podium in GS since winning in Val d’Isere last December.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but I knew it was possible,” said Weirather. “I missed the bronze medal by 0.06 in giant slalom at the World Championships and I have been skiing well in training in the last couple of days. But then you have to do it on race day and that’s the tough part. I am very happy it worked out today.”
Shiffrin was hoping to earn her third GS podium of the season, but did not have the same aggressive, clean skiing as the top three. Regardless, it was still a strong result for the two-time defending slalom world champion after a busy and emotional two weeks at her home World Championships.
“It’s nice that these races here in Maribor are right after the World Championships,” said Shiffrin. “I feel like I keep that adrenaline going. Now I am in the World Cup mode again, and it will just continue for the rest of the season.
“You know, I don’t think I let it go quite soon enough, I thought I was going to have trouble down there (on the bottom) and I didn’t,” admitted Shiffrin. “For the rest of the course it felt really good, so you know, just take what I can from the day.”
Lindsey Vonn was the only other American competing in the GS. Julia Mancuso took the weekend off to rest and prepare for the remainder of the season and the younger athletes are competing north of the border in the Canadian NorAm series. The Canadians had a solid showing from their only participant in the second run, Marie-Pier Prefontaine. She finished 12th overall after posting the ninth fastest second run, to move up from 22nd.
Vonn was having a fast first run through the initial interval and held a slight advantage over Fenninger by 0.09 seconds. But she lost her outside ski coming over the first breakover, causing her skis to hook up and she tumbled into the fencing on the side of the hill. She appeared to be fine and skied down to the finish. It was another promising GS section for Vonn after she finished with the fifth fastest second run at World Championships. Her last World Cup win in GS was in Maribor in 2013.
Hometown hero Tina Maze was also having a strong first run in front of thousands of cheering fans, but she entered a bit too direct on a turn with a roll three gates before the finish and crashed out. After finishing with two golds and a silver in Vail/Beaver Creek, Maze was excited to return to racing in front of her local fans and was disappointed with the way her day ended.
“I saw myself already through the finish line and I misjudge the last wave,” said Maze. “I came too straight and there was no way I could make it to the next gate. I heard and felt the fans around me. I am disappointed and sorry that I didn’t finish today.”
Fenninger was able to make up significant ground on Maze in the overall standings with her win. The lead, which once looked insurmountable, has dwindle down to an 84-point advantage for Maze after Fenninger strung together four straight World Cup podiums dating back to Jan. 19 in Cortina D’Ampezzo. Fenninger took the lead in the GS standings away from her teammate Eva-Maria Brem and now leads 342-296. Brem had her worst GS result of the season finishing 10th.
The women continue tomorrow in Maribor with a slalom, where Maze is the defending champion from 2013.
By Hank McKee
- Fenninger, Head/Head/Head
- Rebensburg, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
- Weirather, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
- Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Mowinckel, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Brignone, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
- Curtoni, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
- Brem, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
Women’s World Cup giant slalom, Maribor, Slovenia, Feb. 21, 2015:
- It is the 23rd of 34 races on the women’s World Cup schedule … the fifth of seven GS’s. … It is the 64th World Cup hosted by Maribor … the 27th GS. … Lindsey Vonn won the last GS at the site Jan. 26, 2013. … Two Americans have won slaloms at Maribor, Barbara Cochran Jan. 18, 1970 and Tamara McKinney Jan. 5, 1985.
- It is the tenth career World Cup win for Anna Fenninger and ninth in GS. … It is her fourth win of the season including two gold medals at World Championships. … The winning margin is .04 of a second. … Top eight racers are within the same second. … Top ten within two seconds.
- It is the 23rd career World Cup podium placing for Viktoria Rebensburg. … Her third of the season including a silver medal at World Championships.
- It is the 19th career World Cup podium for Tina Weirather. … Her third of the season in three different disciplines.
- It is the fifth best World Cup GS result for Mikaela Shiffrin … her best in 2015. … It is the fourth best career World Cup placing for Marie-Pier Prefontaine.
- Tina Maze (DNF in race) leads the World Cup overall standings 985-901 over Fenninger. … Mikaela Shiffrin is third with 650pts.
- Fenninger leads the GS standings 342-296 over Eva-Maria Brem (tenth in race). … Shiffrin is third in the GS standings with 271pts.
|Did not start 1st run|
|50||206548||MAGG Ann Katrin||1994||GER|
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|57||298904||CILLARA ROSSI Valentina||1994||ITA|
|40||197124||FRASSE SOMBET Coralie||1991||FRA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|