Zettel holds off Schild for World Cup slalom win

AFP, ASPEN, Colorado

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - Page 19

Austria’s Kathrin Zettel won the women’s World Cup slalom in dominant style on Sunday, holding off compatriot Marlies Schild.

World champion Schild was denied a 34th slalom victory, which would match the record in the discipline of Swiss great Vreni Schneider.

Red-hot Slovenian Tina Maze, whose giant slalom victory on Saturday was her second in as many races in the discipline this season, settled for third.

She grabbed the last podium place ahead of German Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who was skiing with a bruised left arm after a crash on Saturday.

Zettel, who was runner-up to Maze on Saturday, led after the opening leg, with Maze in second.

Zettel then delivered a blistering top second leg of 49.72 seconds for a combined time of 1 minute, 42.46 seconds.

She finished 67-hundredths of a second faster than training partner Schild, who clocked a combined 1:43.13, with Maze third with a combined time of 1:44.27.

“I love Aspen! It’s where I had my first podium, my first victory,” said Zettel, who claimed her first top-three World Cup finish there in 2005 and her first win in a giant slalom the following year.

Sunday’s win was the ninth of a career that had been slowed by injury and her first since 2010.

It was all the sweeter that it came against Schild, the skier that Zettel said was the driving force of the Austrians in training.

Maze remained atop the overall standings with 310 points after four events, with Zettel second on 260.

“I’m feeling fit and strong,” the Slovenian said. “Everything is going well for me.”

The US’ four-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn, still regaining fitness after an intestinal illness that landed her in hospital for a couple of days this month, opted not to compete.

She missed a second straight slalom, having also opted out of the season opener in the discipline at Levi, Finland, won by Hoefl-Riesch.

Vonn, who was 21st and clearly exhausted after Saturday’s giant slalom, is hoping to have her stamina back next weekend when the women travel to Lake Louise for their first speed events of the season.

Vonn won all three races there last season.

Lake Louise Winterstart

AP, LAKE LOUISE, canada

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway edged Adrien Theaux of France by 0.85 seconds to win a super-G race on Sunday and complete a sweep of the World Cup races at the Lake Louise Winterstart event.

Svindal also won Saturday’s downhill, making him the first man to win both races at Lake Louise since Bode Miller in 2004.

He also won the super-G at Lake Louise last year.

“Most racers, including myself, you don’t have the chance to win World Cups every day and when you feel you have a chance, you have to get after it,” Svindal said. “Yesterday and today, I felt: ‘This is a race I can win,’ and you’ve got to try and take advantage of those opportunities.”

The Norwegian was timed in 1 minute, 34.96 seconds. Joachim Puchner of Austria was third in 1:35.86 and Ted Ligety of the US was fourth in 1:35.87.

Five years ago, Svindal crashed spectacularly in a downhill training run at Beaver Creek, Colorado. Broken bones in his face and a severe laceration in his abdomen sidelined him for the entire 2007-2008 season.

The 29-year-old said the crash changed him as a racer. He was coming off a super-G win in Lake Louise and felt like Superman when he arrived in Beaver Creek.

“I was a second ahead of everyone on the training run, which is unnecessary because it was the first training run,” Svindal recalled. “I went down hard and when I hit the fence, I wasn’t so much Superman any more.”

“The kind of risks I took yesterday and today, there’s no need to take in training and that’s the lesson learned from that experience,” he added.

Svindal returned to capture the overall World Cup title in 2009 and the Olympic gold medal in super-G, silver in downhill and bronze in giant slalom at the 2010 Winter Olympics.