The U.S. Women’s Ski Team lost some experience today (Dec. 29) but gained whole lot of exciting promise.
It was a bitter, sweet day for the American team in Lienz, Austria as 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin earned her first World Cup podium in third place on the same day that her veteran teammate Sarah Schleper skied her final World Cup run.
The victory belonged to Austrian Marlies Schild, who made skiing to her fourth consecutive World Cup slalom win look easy with a 0.79-second advantage over second-place finisher Tina Maze of Slovenia. It was the third win by an Austrian woman on home snow in as many races. Schild won a slalom in nearby Flachau last week and her teammate Anna Fenninger took yesterday’s GS. Today’s victory marked Schild’s 33rd career World Cup win.
“It was very difficult,” Schild told Fisalpine.com. “The second run, the setting was not so easy. You really had to work from the start to the finish. It was a long course.”
The sunny skies that graced yesterday’s GS were replaced by cloudy conditions this morning with light snow during the first run.
The historic day for the Americans was kicked off by a memorable final World Cup run by Schleper, before her teammates got to work.
Shiffrin was the 40th starter but stood 12th after the first run, then put down a nearly flawless second run to cross the line with a temporary lead of more than a half second. In just her eighth World Cup start, she held the lead through the following nine top-ranked racers including overall leader Lindsey Vonn and German Maria Hoefl-Riesch. Shiffrin’s second run was the fastest by 0.24 seconds.
“I feel unbelievably happy,” said Shiffrin, a Colorado native. “I’m just ecstatic, I can’t describe it any other way. It’s been my dream and my goal to be standing next to [Schild] on the podium and I did it.”
After being hoisted on her teammates’ shoulders in the finish area, Shiffrin said she was trying to stay focused on the season ahead. “I’m mainly focused on keeping my head on my shoulders and to keep skiing,” she said. “Those two runs were so much fun today and that’s what it’s all about.”
After standing sixth in the first run, Vonn had a nice lead when she got tripped up in the middle of the second run course and finished tied for 18th. Vonn currently holds a 172-point lead in the overall standings with 612 points. Schild stands second with 440 points while Fenninger trails in third with 368 points.
Resi Stiegler, in the No. 49 bib, was the last woman to reach the second run in 30th place. She got a clean course for the second run and turned it in to a 27th-place result for her first World Cup points of the season.
After revealing she would retire this morning, Schleper, a 15-year World Cup veteran, had some fun with her final run down a World Cup course.
Schleper wore a brown dress and a blue Shred helmet decorated with flowers. Her signature roar out of the start was echoed in the finish stadium. After smashing gates with true passion, she stopped midway and picked up her three-year-old son Lasse from Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser and then continued to run the final gates with him in her arms. She gave an extra punch to the last one. She was greeted in the finish area with hugs and flowers from her teammates and competitors.
“I keep saying that I’m so excited that this is my last race but it’s really sad to leave my friends and this crazy incredible lifestyle,” said Schleper, a four-time Olympian and one-time World Cup winner. “My friends on the tour are what I’m going to miss the most for sure.”
“Now that I know that I am retiring, I see all these faces on the tour and it makes me tear up with almost every one I see because I have become so close with so many people,” continued Schleper.
The Canadian women continued their solid slalom run as Marie-Michele Gagnon finished 14th for her third top-15 finish of the young season. Erin Mielzynski also broke into the points for the third time this season in 22nd.
The World Cup women’s tour will now go on an unexpected four-day break following the cancellation of a city event planned to take place in Munich Jan. 1. The popular event was canceled due to low snow conditions and warm weather. — Eric Williams
by Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup slalom, Lienz, Austria, Dec. 29, 2011
1 Schild, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
3 Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Geiger, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Moelgg, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
7 Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Zuzulova, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
10 Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
Women’s World Cup slalom, Lienz, Austria, Dec. 29, 2011. … It is the 11th race of the women’s 40 race 2011-12 World Cup season. … the fourth of 10 scheduled slaloms. … It is the 21st Cup race hosted by Lienz. … the 12th in slalom.
It is the 33rd World Cup win for Marlies Schild. … the 31st in slalom (of 67 completed races). … It is her fourth slalom win of the season in four chances. … She is second all-time among women for slalom wins behind Vreni Schneider’s 33. … It is her second slalom win at Lienz having also won Dec. 29, 2009.
It is the 30th career World Cup podium placing for Tina Maze. … her seventh in slalom. … It is her second podium of the season having also placed third in slalom at Flachau Dec. 20. … It is her second podium at Lienz having placed third in GS Dec. 28, 2005.
It is the second career World Cup score for Mikaela Shiffrin and her first podium. … Her other was an eighth place in slalom at Aspen earlier this season (Nov. 27). … She is the youngest American on an alpine Cup podium since Tamara McKinney in 1978.
Marie-Michele Gagnon matches her ninth best career score. … and her third best of the season. … Lindsey Vonn matches her 29th best Cup slalom result. … It is the sixth career scoring result for Erin Mielzynski. … Her third of the season all in slalom. … It is the 47th career scoring result for Resi Stiegler. … Her first of the season.
Vonn maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 612-440 over Schild. … Anna Fenninger is third with 368pts. … Gagnon is top Canadian in 29th with 88pts. … Schild leads the slalom standings 400-207 over Maze. … Kathrin Zettel (fifth in race) is third with 200pts. … Shiffrin is the top US skier on the slalom list in 10th with 92pts. … Gagnon the top Canadian in 14th with 71pts.
Images by Gepa
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|24||60||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||56.87||57.69||1:54.56||17.19|
|Did not qualify 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|