French skier Sandrine Aubert won her second World Cup race of the season in Zagreb on Sunday as she won the women’s slalom for her fourth career victory in the discipline.
The 27-year-old, who was fourth after the first leg, beat home Austrian Kathrin Zettel by 43 hundredths of a second while Germany’s Susanne Riesch was third, 74 hundredths of a second adrift for her second ever podium position.
Zettel had led after the first leg ahead of compatriot Marlies Schild, but while the latter crashed out on the second run the former had to be content with her sixth podium placing of the campaign.
Victory for Aubert, who won in the Swedish resort of Are and then finished second in Linz in Austria last Tuesday, saw her move to the top of the slalom standings.
“It’s like that, this sport,” Aubert said. “There are good and bad days. Certain among us had the luck today [Sunday], others didn’t.”
“As the leaders were coming down on the second leg, I thought I was going to win,” added Aubert, who collected a 50,000 euro (US$71,600) check for the win which is the richest prize on offer on the circuit.
Aubert said that the more success she had the less pressure she felt heading towards February’s Olympic Games in Vancouver.
“The more I am closer to winning and on the podium, the better I feel because it means I can compete against the best,” she said. “I can be a contender for victory every time and for me that is exciting.”
“However by contrast, when I am a little behind, that is when I feel some pressure and I don’t feel so good,” she said. “Now it is vital to manage the races that are coming up and to handle the pressure, without pushing too hard when it comes to leading the standings and the crystal globes.”
Germany’s Maria Riesch — older sister of Susanne — went top of the overall World Cup standings after finishing fourth, at the expense of American Lindsey Vonn, who was disqualified.
AFP, INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA
Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the defending World Cup champion, won the third leg of the Four Hills ski jump event on Sunday, adding to his win at Garmisch on Friday.
Schlierenzauer won at his home venue for the first time, leaping 130m and 122m for 251.1 points he soared past his rivals, Swiss Simon Ammann, who jumped 128.5 and 117.5m for 237.8 points and Finland’s five-time winner Janne Ahonen, who scored 237.4 points with leaps of 128m and 117.5m.
The win was the perfect early birthday present for Schlierenzauer coming just four days before he turns 20.
He had started out with a poor showing last Tuesday at Oberstdorf, where, blaming an upset stomach, he could only place ninth.
After seeing off compatriot Wolfgang Loitzl and Ammann at Garmisch, he was again bang on form.
“I don’t know quite what to say,” gasped Schlierenzauer, who also took command of the overall World Cup standings with a two point advantage over Ammann. “Almost every day, I passed by this jump and I said to myself that I wanted to win here.”
Another Austrian crowd favorite Andreas Kofler, who triumphed at Oberstdorf, was fourth on Sunday after jumping 126m and 118.5m for 235.1 points while titleholder Loitzl was sixth.
Austria can dream also of completing their first cleansweep of the final podium placings in the series since 1974 to 1975.
■TOUR DE SKI
AP, OBERHOF, GERMANY
Eldar Roenning of Norway and Petra Majdic of Slovenia won the 1.6km sprints on Sunday on the concluding leg of the cross-country Tour de Ski in Germany.