Tina Maze of Slovenia on her way to victory in Levi. GEPA

Tina Maze of Slovenia on her way to victory in Levi. GEPA

The start of the 2014-15 slalom season began in Levi, Finland, with all eyes on defending overall slalom champ and Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, but it was 2013 overall winner Tina Maze who surprised many – and stole the show.

Maze, who started with bib 13, skied a flawless first run to overtake then-leader Frida Hansdotter and held on after a bobble on the pitch in the second run to take the win.

“I’m really happy I managed to finally finish the first run in first position and end up that way; that was always hard for me, and today I made it,” said Maze. “It’s good to be here to have this time to get ready for slalom. The hill was just super nice, and I gave my best so I’m really happy.”

Maze, whose results following her record-breaking season in 2013 have oftentimes been puzzling, had a disappointing 22nd-place result in Soelden to open the World Cup season. She clearly rebounded quickly with her decisive wire-to-wire win today. Charging out of the gate on run one, linking clean, quick turns across the long flat, Maze carried that skiing all the way down the pitch to the finish. Her second run was much of the same as she built on her lead at the first interval, but a mistake mid-way down the pitch made it appear that she might have trouble holding onto her lead. She recovered quickly and was able to make a fast transition from the steep to flat and finish for her fourth career slalom win.

“I worked hard this summer so I was not surprised how well I skied today but I was a bit surprised it got me in the lead. But I’m like that sometimes, when I’m feeling good I can ski well and get ahead,” she said.

Second-place finisher Hansdotter of Sweden was hoping to add to her lone World Cup victory which came last season in Kranjska Gora. She skied two superb runs to come down with the lead on the second run, but was unable to hold off the final challenger on the day.

“It feels great to have a great start of the season. I feel good and feel my skiing is quite consistent. I am also aware I have more to give so it will be fun to see what I can do this season. I hope I can aim at the slalom title, it’s certainly one of my goals to go home at the end of the season with the crystal globe,” she said after the race.

It is her 10th career second-place result, and while she was happy with her finish she felt at times that she had a hard time adjusting to the snow conditions.

“The base is not icy but it’s quite aggressive making it hard to let your skis go. In the first run there was also quite a bit of room from gate to gate so you had to find a good rhythm to keep your pace up,” she explained.

The Swedish team looked poised to have two on the podium with Hansdotter and Maria Pietilae-Holmner sitting second and third, respectively, after run one. But it was not to be as Austrian Kathrin Zettel moved up from fifth to third with a clean and aggressive second run to overtake both Pietilae-Holmner, who was pushed back to fourth, and Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon, who sat fourth after run run but struggled down the pitch and dropped back to sixth.

The second run saw lots of movement with bunched times and excellent snow conditions allowing for significant moves. The snow conditions held up extremely well allowing for six starters outside of the top 30 to qualify for the second run, with three of those having bibs over 50. Manuela Moelgg made the most impressive move of the day as the former top-10 slalom skier battled from bib 52 to 27th on the first run and then made a huge leap to finish 12th on the day.

“I think it’s probably the most fair race of the whole year because the snow is good for anybody. Somebody can start 50th and come down in the top 5 because the snow is amazing. I think it’s a good opportunity for the young girls to make their first result or just have a really good feeling and feel like they can really do well on the World Cup,” said Gagnon of the conditions.

Lone Norwegian Nina Loeseth was able to capitalize on more reactionary skiing by some contenders in the field on the second run, including Gagnon, and she leapfrogged over the Canadian from eighth after the first run for a career-best finish at Levi in fifth.

The Americans will leave Levi with disappointment and some satisfaction. Shiffrin skied conservative on both runs on the steep pitch to finish 11th on the day. It is only her second result outside of the top 10 in slalom in the last two seasons, after a 12th place finish in Courchevel last December.

However, Resi Stiegler was noticeably pleased in the finish area with her result on the day and was the only other American to earn a second run. She skied two very solid runs to land in 18th, giving her a first result to build on the rest of the season. The other two U.S. starters, Paula Moltzan and Hailey Duke, did not qualify for the second run, but it was still the first time since 2009 that two Americans finished in the points in Levi.

Shiffrin, who was hoping to keep her slalom winning streak alive after claiming victories the final two races last season, appeared visibly upset in the finish of the second run when she came down with the lead, but by only by a few tenths. She needed to make up 1.71 seconds on Maze to take the win and her reaction told it all, as she knew she had not done enough.

Fatigue and jet lag are definite factors that could have played a role in the result. Shiffrin was delayed traveling to Finland and arrived late Thursday, only giving her one day of training to adjust to the snow conditions and time change. Whether or not that was a factor, she clearly did not look like the same skier who won on this hill last year by over a second and she made no excuses for her skiing.

“I’m not happy with my skiing today, not even a little bit – I don’t have any excuses, the hill was in perfect condition, I had amazing support, we were all fired up, and I skied far below my potential,” Shiffrin posted to Facebook. “So now I go back to the basics – always looking to improve, being positive, and having fun skiing fast. It’s a bit of a reality check. Those girls ripped today, and I’m so grateful to be in the company of such great competitors.”

The travel plans for the Americans were in stark contrast to that of Maze, who came early to Levi to prepare for the race, with the decision clearly paying dividends for her.

“It’s the best feeling in the world when you can have fun between the gates. It really helped to come to Levi a bit earlier as the conditions for training were great,” added Maze. “The training slope preparation, the winter temperatures and gym facilities here were ideal so I felt I was really able to prepare for the race.”

The women now move on to Aspen, Colo., for a slalom and GS on Nov. 29 and 30.

See more photos from today’s race here.

 

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

  1. Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
  2. Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  3. Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  4. Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  5. Loeseth, Volkl/Lange/Marker
  6. Gagnon, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
  7. Strachova, Head/Head/Head
  8. M. Gisin, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  9. Hosp, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  10. Daum, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol

Women’s World Cup slalom, Levi, Finland, Nov. 15, 2014:

  • It is the second race of the women’s 35 race World Cup schedule, the first of 11 slated slaloms – including city parallel events. … It is the 17 World Cup race hosted by Levi, all of them slaloms. … It is the 11th women’s slalom at the site, the seventh held in November.
  • It is the 26th career World Cup win for Tina Maze … her fourth in slalom. … Her best previous result at Levi was third, Nov. 16, 2013. … It is the 48th Slovenian World Cup win, the 20th in slalom. … Winning margin is .39.
  • It is the 12th career World Cup podium for Frida Hansdotter. All of them in slalom and 11 of them second-place finishes… (she also won at Kranjska Gora Feb. 27, 1014).
  • It is the 47th career World Cup podium for Kathrin Zettel … her 23rd in slalom.
  • Marie-Michele Gagnon matches her tenth-best career result. … She has finished sixth six times. … It is a career-best result for Nina Loeseth at Levi (previously seventh from last season) and her fourth top-5 result. … It is the 32nd best career World Cup result for Mikaela Shiffrin. … It is the 40th best result for Resi Stiegler. … It is the first time since 2009 the U.S. women have had more than one scorer at Levi.
  • Shiffrin leads the World Cup overall standings 125-110 over Zettel. … Maze is third at 109. … Gagnon is 11th with 40pts.
  • Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 394-245 over Sweden. … The U.S. is third with 156 and Canada tenth with 47pts.

 

RESULTS

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time Diff. FIS Points
 1  13  565243 MAZE Tina 1983 SLO  58.12  57.03  1:55.15  0.00
 2  1  505679 HANSDOTTER Frida 1985 SWE  58.51  56.98  1:55.49  +0.34  2.13
 3  6  55838 ZETTEL Kathrin 1986 AUT  58.97  56.70  1:55.67  +0.52  3.25
 4  2  505760 PIETILAE-HOLMNER Maria 1986 SWE  58.81  56.93  1:55.74  +0.59  3.69
 5  8  425771 LOESETH Nina 1989 NOR  59.41  56.91  1:56.32  +1.17  7.32
 6  5  105269 GAGNON Marie-Michele 1989 CAN  58.87  57.64  1:56.51  +1.36  8.50
 7  9  155415 STRACHOVA Sarka 1985 CZE  59.22  57.45  1:56.67  +1.52  9.50
 8  30  516284 GISIN Michelle 1993 SUI  59.64  57.04  1:56.68  +1.53  9.57
 9  12  55690 HOSP Nicole 1983 AUT  59.45  57.52  1:56.97  +1.82  11.38
 10  22  55807 DAUM Alexandra 1986 AUT  59.75  57.41  1:57.16  +2.01  12.57
 11  4  6535237 SHIFFRIN Mikaela 1995 USA  59.83  57.39  1:57.22  +2.07  12.94
 12  52  296259 MOELGG Manuela 1983 ITA  1:00.27  57.18  1:57.45  +2.30  14.38
 13  14  516280 HOLDENER Wendy 1993 SUI  59.94  57.53  1:57.47  +2.32  14.51
 14  7  705287 VELEZ ZUZULOVA Veronika 1984 SVK  59.92  57.59  1:57.51  +2.36  14.76
 15  37  297233 PARDELLER Sarah 1988 ITA  59.88  57.68  1:57.56  +2.41  15.07
 16  11  55759 KIRCHGASSER Michaela 1985 AUT  1:00.48  57.11  1:57.59  +2.44  15.26
 17  20  55977 THALMANN Carmen 1989 AUT  59.95  57.65  1:57.60  +2.45  15.32
 18  28  537772 STIEGLER Resi 1985 USA  1:00.00  57.74  1:57.74  +2.59  16.19
 19  59  506399 HECTOR Sara 1992 SWE  1:00.18  57.77  1:57.95  +2.80  17.51
 20  18  296354 COSTAZZA Chiara 1984 ITA  1:00.00  57.98  1:57.98  +2.83  17.70
 21  17  515997 FEIERABEND Denise 1989 SUI  59.45  58.57  1:58.02  +2.87  17.95
 22  23  56258 AGER Christina 1995 AUT  1:00.50  57.60  1:58.10  +2.95  18.45
 23  41  516109 VOGEL Nadja 1990 SUI  1:00.17  57.96  1:58.13  +2.98  18.63
 24  16  205239 WIRTH Barbara 1989 GER  1:00.21  58.12  1:58.33  +3.18  19.88
 25  38  197319 BAUD Adeline 1992 FRA  59.92  58.44  1:58.36  +3.21  20.07
 26  25  196803 MOUGEL Laurie 1988 FRA  1:00.04  58.39  1:58.43  +3.28  20.51
 27  19  206279 GEIGER Christina 1990 GER  59.79  58.73  1:58.52  +3.37  21.07
Did not qualify for 2nd run
 62  555018 GASUNA Lelde 1990 LAT
 60  155479 SMUTNA Michaela 1987 CZE
 58  206497 FILSER Andrea 1993 GER
 57  25096 GUTIERREZ Mireia 1988 AND
 56  405138 JELINKOVA Adriana 1995 NED
 55  65038 PERSYN Karen 1983 BEL
 54  485637 ALOPINA Ksenia 1992 RUS
 53  206532 SCHMOTZ Marlene 1994 GER
 50  155728 DUBOVSKA Martina 1992 CZE
 49  315187 IGNJATOVIC Nevena 1990 SRB
 48  206408 WEINBUCHNER Susanne 1991 GER
 47  206355 DUERR Lena 1991 GER
 46  537792 DUKE Hailey 1985 USA
 45  297601 BRIGNONE Federica 1990 ITA
 44  206160 RIESCH Susanne 1987 GER
 42  506555 BLOMQVIST Lisa 1994 SWE
 40  196726 BARTHET Anne-Sophie 1988 FRA
 39  206487 WIESLER Maren 1993 GER
 36  55898 BREM Eva-Maria 1988 AUT
 35  539909 MOLTZAN Paula 1994 USA
 33  196725 BARIOZ Taina 1988 FRA
 31  196928 WORLEY Tessa 1989 FRA
 27  506583 SAEFVENBERG Charlotta 1994 SWE
 26  296509 CURTONI Irene 1985 ITA
 24  107068 PHELAN Brittany 1991 CAN
 21  506350 EKLUND Nathalie 1992 SWE
 10  506341 WIKSTROEM Emelie 1992 SWE
Did not finish 2nd run
 51  56241 SCHNEEBERGER Rosina 1994 AUT
 15  506146 SWENN-LARSSON Anna 1991 SWE
 3  56032 SCHILD Bernadette 1990 AUT
Did not finish 1st run
 65  185383 AHONEN Saana 1994 FIN
 64  185357 VIRKKULA Sohvi 1993 FIN
 63  185403 MAKINEN Janina 1996 FIN
 61  435313 MAJERCZYK Sabina 1993 POL
 43  185317 SOPPELA Merle 1991 FIN
 34  206536 WALLNER Marina 1994 GER
 32  196793 MARMOTTAN Anemone 1988 FRA
 29  106961 MIELZYNSKI Erin 1990 CAN

 

Article Tags: Alpine, Top Story

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Jessica Kelley
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- A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team, Kelley collected three NorAm titles, won GS silver at the 2002 World Junior Championships, and was a member of the 2007 World Championships team during her professional career. She resides in Park City, Utah, with her husband, Adam Cole.
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