Marlies Schild kept up her winning streak as she raced to her fifth successive World Cup slalom victory on Tuesday.
The Austrian world champion again outclassed the rest of the field to bag her 32nd slalom victory in a combined time of 2 minutes, 1.32 seconds on the floodlit Croatian slalom course.
Schild’s fourth victory in Zagreb left her nearest rival, Slovenia’s Tina Maze, 1.40 seconds adrift.
Fellow Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser finished third, 2.27 seconds behind her compatriot for her first medal spot this winter.
“It’s not as easy at it looks. There’s a lot of work in training behind this. But I’m full of confidence at the moment, because I don’t have to go over my limits and I can stay within my comfort zone and win,” Schild said.
Schild is now only two short of Vreni Schenider’s record of 34 slalom victories, but the Austrian refused to get distracted by such landmarks.
“It’s something people tell me about after the race, but I never think about it before I start. I don’t want to put pressure on myself,” she said.
Her five victories this winter also left her just 101 points behind World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn in the overall standings, but instead of focusing on the top spot, she was more interested in her own form.
“I above all want to improve my level in the giant slalom and the super-G, in which I was pretty good before my accident,” Schild said.
She was sidelined for nearly two years following a training accident in 2008.
“But the 20 months I lost [in 2008] are not that easy to take back,” she added.
Schild started her career as a downhill specialist, but a series of injuries forced her to concentrate on the less dangerous slalom events.
Even if the 30-year-old decided to become more versatile, she would probably not be in a position to challenge the US’ Vonn, who showed off her slick slalom skills despite being sick before the race.
A poor first leg ruined her podium chances, but Vonn clocked the second fastest time in the evening run, only 0.49 seconds behind Schild, and limited the damage by finishing ninth.
“I felt so bad after the first run that I didn’t check the second. I just went straight down and I gritted my teeth. I learnt last season that every single point counts and I don’t want to lose the World Cup by three points ever again,” said Vonn, who was pipped to the title by Maria Riesch last season.
Riesch, laid low by a bout of flu, failed to complete the second leg on Tuesday.