With the pressure of defending her 2011 overall title officially taken off her shoulders by Lindsey Vonn yesterday, German Maria Hoefl-Riesch was able to ski untethered today (March 10) as she claimed her first slalom World Cup win of the season in Are, Sweden.
Hoefl-Riesch had not returned to the top step of the slalom podium all season, failing to finish in four slalom races, but today the six-foot-tall, slalom Olympic gold medalist came from a third-place standing in the first run to take the win by just one-hundredth of a second over first run leader, Slovakian Veronika Zuzulova. It was Hoefl-Riesch’s third victory of the season.
“With one hundreth, you can’t say it’s better or worse. Sometimes you need some luck,” Hoefl-Riesch told the Associated Press. “I think I won this race in the middle. I risked a lot there and made up a lot on the time. Last season, everything was perfect. I was consistent from beginning to end and I had something like 16 or 18 podiums. This year, I went out so many times. It’s special to win a slalom this year, especially with Marlies Schild being almost unbeatable.”
Even with a mistake at the top of the second run course, Canada’s Marie-Michele Gagnon held on to finish third and grab the first World Cup podium of her career, 0.11 seconds behind the winner. She had never finished higher than fifth.
The Canadian women are enjoying a long awaited string of success in the last two weeks. Erin Mielzynski (DNF in the first run today) brought the Canadian women’s team its first win in four years last weekend in the Ofterschwang slalom.
Austrian Marlies Schild, who has already clinched this season’s slalom title, showed some fatigue in the second run after a wildly successful season (six slalom wins). She stood second after the first run but had trouble in the middle of the course and slid back to a sixth-place finish in the final women’s slalom of the regular season.
The well represented local crowd got plenty to cheer about as five Swedish women filled the top 15. Therese Borssen led the home team in fourth followed by Frida Hansdotter in sixth and Anna Swenn-Larsson in ninth.
Today’s results were significant far beyond the podium as racers towards the back of the pack fought to reach or stay in the top 25 in the season-long rankings and earn a ticket to race at the World Cup finals next week.
Three U.S. women will make their way to the finals slalom next week led by 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin who finished the regular season ranked 17th after tying for ninth place today, 0.39 seconds behind the leader. It was her fourth top-10 finish of the season.
“Sometimes it feels like, ‘man, it’s about time’ and I have to take a step back and realize that some of these girls have been the fastest skiers in the world for ten years, so I need to fight every single run. It’s hard but it’s also really exciting,” said Shiffrin. “I’m really excited about racing in Schladming. It feels good to be top 25 in the world, but honestly, I’ve been dreaming about winning World Cup races since I was five years old.”
Lindsey Vonn, who clinched this season’s overall title by winning yesterday’s giant slalom, stood 15th after the first run. She was enjoying a strong second run when she fell to her hip and skied off course just a few gates from the finish. She stands 19th in the slalom rankings.
Resi Stielger, who claimed her first World Cup podium with a second-place finish a slalom last weekend, grabbed the last starting spot in the 30-woman second run. She moved up eight spots to finish 22nd today and end the regular season ranked 23.
The women’s tour now moves to join the men at World Cup finals in Schadming, Austria March 14-18.
MORE TO COME
by Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup slalom, Are, Sweden, March 10, 2012
1 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
2 Zuzulova, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Gagnon, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
4 Borssen, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
5 Curtoni, Fischer/Lange/Fischer
6 Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
6 Schild, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
9 Swenn-Larsson, Head/Head/Head
9 Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
Women’s World Cup slalom, Are, Sweden, March 10, 2012. … It is the 33rd of 37 races remaining on the women’s World Cup schedule. … the ninth of ten scheduled slaloms. … the 84th Cup race held – at least in part – at Are. … the second of the season.
It is the 23rd career World Cup win for Maria Hoefl-Riesch. … her eighth in slalom. … She is the second ranked German skier on the all-time World Cup win list behind Katja Seizinger (36). …It is her third win of the season in three different discplines having also won a combined at St Moritz Jan 29 and the downhill at Sochi Feb. 18.
It is the 12th career World Cup podium result for Veronika Zuzulova. … all in slalom. … She has never won a World Cup race. … It is her second podium result of the season, the other coming Jan. 22 at Kranjska Gora.
It is the first career World Cup podium result for Marie-Michele Gagnon. … She is the third Canadian this season to collect a first podium (Ben Thomsen and Erin Mielzynski are the others). … She is the eighth Canadian to claim a Cup slalom podium.
North Americans: It is the sixth career scoring result for Mikaela Shiffrin and her fourth top 10. … all from this season…. It is the sixth score of the season for Resi Stiegler, four of them coming in March.
Standings: Lindsey Vonn (DNF 2nd) leads the overall standings 1808-1286 over Tina Maze (eighth in race) with four races remaining and cannot be beaten for the crown. … Hoefl-Riesch is third overall with 1175pts. … Julia Mancuso (did not race) is sixth overall with 855pts. … Gagnon is top Canadian in 19th with 333pts. … Marlies Schild (sixth in race) leads the slalom standings 700-393 over Maze with one race remaining and cannot be beaten for the title. … Michaela Kirchgasser (14th in race) is third with 352pts. … Gagnon is tenth with 208pts. … Shiffrin is the top American in 17th place with 147pts. … Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup standings 5185-3507 over the US. … Italy is third with 2740 and Canada 10th with 603pts.
Image by Gepa
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|59||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG|
|48||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|58||35079||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG|