Under the lights and in front of a roaring crowd in Flachau, Austria, Frida Hansdotter charged out of the gate on run one to take the lead and held nothing back on the challenging, soft, rutty, run two to take her second career victory. The Swede, who has made a career of runner-up finishes with 11 of her 13 podiums landing her in second place, had only one prior win — until today.
“It’s wonderful. It’s so nice and so fun to race here in Flachau, a night race,” said a smiling Hansdotter in the finish. “It’s such a big crowd and so nice to ski.”
Hansdotter put down a flawless first run and held a tight lead over Tina Maze heading into the second leg. The second run course was set by Hansdotter’s coach Christian Thoma, and ironically, her only other victory (last February in Kranjska Gora) was also set by him.
“Maybe (it was an advantage having my coach set). I think the first course also was really nice but, for sure, it’s nice to ski a course that you know,” said Hansdotter.
Either way, she left nothing on the course on her second run. Gaining speed and time at each interval by attacking into the groove in the soft snow, she increased her lead over Maze to take the win by 0.61 seconds. Mikaela Shiffrin made a nice jump on run two moving from eighth to third overall, at 0.63 seconds behind the winner.
“It’s such a nice feeling to win tonight,” Hansdotter confessed. “The crowd is amazing and the atmosphere is great. Today I felt this could be my day. I just tried to go for it and it went well.”
Hansdotter, who has been arguably the most consistently fast slalom skier over the past year, has now finished in the top four in the last 10 slalom races. Today, she was not to be denied the win after finishing runner-up to Shiffrin the past two years in Flachau. She skied aggressively in the rutty, tricky set on run two that saw seven of the first 15 racers fail to finish.
“I just tried to go for it, like every turn just go for it,” said Hansdotter of her plan. “I am super satisfied. I really like it here in Flachau. I’d say it’s one of the most fun events of the season.”
Maze continues to amass podiums and points in her quest for her second overall title. She trailed Hansdotter on run one by 0.23 seconds, and was able to hold off the fast second run challenge of Mikaela Shiffrin — barely — and took the lead away by 0.02 seconds. She then had to wait and see if she would get a Slovenian record-tying fifth World Cup slalom win, but she could not match the speed of Hansdotter and settled for second. It was her seventh podium finish of the season and 75th of her career, tying her with Austrian Anita Wachter for 10th all-time among women.
“I was training well in the last days and was pretty confident about my slalom here. I did pretty good, it’s a great result and I am very happy about it,” said Maze.
Shiffrin was looking to win Flachau for a record third straight year, but she skied too conservatively on the soft snow in run one. On the second leg she looked more like the skier who had won the previous two races in dominating fashion, but she was unable to make up the 0.68 deficit and settled for third, her fifth podium of the season.
“I know I didn’t make any mistakes, I over-skied it quite a bit, I was pretty safe and had a solid finish,” said Shiffrin of her first run. “It was a little bit of a slower pace than I would normally like to ski, but those other girls hammered … I wish I had charged a little more in the first run, but I’m happy with the second run. I picked it up a notch. Sometimes you get third, sometimes you win and sometimes you get 10th. It changes every race. Frida hammered the whole time. She even had a couple mistakes and made speed out of them. She deserved to win and I’m happy to be on the podium.”
The second through fifth place was separated by a mere tenth of a second. Veronika Zuzulova-Velez had the fastest second run and moved up from 12th to fifth overall. She was squeezed out of a podium finish by Wendy Holdener in fourth, four-hundredths faster than Zuzulova Velez, and Shiffrin, who finished 0.08 ahead of Zuzulova-Velez and 0.02 behind Maze. Norwegian Nina Loeseth, fresh off her first podium finish in Zagreb, was in position to earn her second podium after sitting fourth from run one. She struggled with her line in the rutty second course and ultimately moved back to sixth overall.
Shiffrin was the lone American representative on the second run. Resi Stiegler elected not to start after a training crash left her with soreness in her right knee, and neither Paula Moltzan nor Hailey Duke qualified for a second run. The lone Canadian in the second run, Erin Mielzynski, continues to work her way back into the top group with a strong 12th-place finish under the lights.
The women’s tour moves to the speed side for the remainder of the month leading up to the 2015 Vail-Beaver Creek World Championships. The speed races begin in Cortina with a make-up downhill from Bad Kleinkirchheim on Friday.
See more photos from the race here.
By Hank McKee
- Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
- Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Holdener, Head/Head/Head
- Velez Zuzulova, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Loeseth, Volkl/Lange/Marker
- Hosp, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Strachova, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Saefvenberg, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Women’s World Cup night slalom, Flachau, Austria, Jan. 13, 2015:
- It is the 15th race of 34 on the women’s 2015 World Cup calendar. … It is the seventh of 11 slaloms scheduled, the sixth to be held. … It is the 22nd World Cup race hosted by Flachau … all of them since 1993.
- It is the second World Cup win for Frida Hansdotter, the first coming Feb. 27, 2014 at Kranjska Gora, also in slalom. … It is the third win of the season for Swedish women. … Winning margin is .61 of a second. … Top-6 skiers are within the same second.
- It is the 75th career World Cup podium for Tina Maze … her 52nd in slalom. … It is her career best result at Flachau and her second podium at the site, the first coming in 2011. … It is her seventh podium of the season … third of the season in slalom.
- It is the 21st podium in 48 completed races for Mikaela Shiffrin. … It is her fifth podium of the season, third in slalom. It is her third finish at Flachau, the other two wins over the last two seasons.
- It is the eighth best of 25 completed races for Erin Mielzynski, her second best finish at Flachau after a 10th in 2013. It is her fourth score of the season.
- Tina Maze leads the World Cup overall standings 857-605 over Shiffrin. … Anna Fenninger (did not race) is third with 487pts. … Frida Hansdotter moves to fourth at 459pts. … Lindsey Vonn (did not race) is seventh with 312pts. … Marie-Michele Gagnon (DNF 1st run race) leads the Canadians in 22nd place overall with 151pts.
- Hansdotter leads the slalom standings 420-379 over Shiffrin. … Maze is third with 374pts. … Gagnon is 11th with 132pts.
- Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 2654-1486 over the U.S. … Sweden is third with 1442pts. … Canada is ninth with 395pts.
|5||16||705287||VELEZ ZUZULOVA Veronika||1984||SVK||56.52||53.78||1:50.30||+0.71||4.66|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|