Wednesday, December 18, 2013

World Cup women’s race tightens up at St. Moritz

Chodounsky collects slalom points at Val d’Isere


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

Racing here during World Cup races Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at Beaver Creek, Co., 29-year-old Stacey Cook of Mammoth Mountain had a solid SG placing of 16th at St. Moritz last weekend. Photo by Cody Downard/Cody Downard Photography

     The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup women’s overall standings tightened up last weekend at St. Moritz, Switz. and U.S. Ski Team slalom racer David Chodounsky, 29, of Crested Butte, Co. had an excellent result in Val d’Isere, Fra. highlighting a ho-hum American weekend in Europe.

     Sunday, Chodounsky produced a courageous final run to post a career-best Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom with seventh place at Val d’Isere.

     The 2007 NCAA overall champion for alpine skiing was 14th after the opening run and clocked the fourth-fastest final run time to jump seven more slots on the notoriously steep and icy Face de Belvarde. He collected 36 World Cup points to leap into 12th place in the SL standings.

     Ted Ligety, 29, of Park City, Utah and Bode Miller, 36, of Franconia, N.H. fell victim to the steeps with Ligety missing the top 30 final and Miller skiing out.

     Austrian Mario Matt won his 14th World Cup slalom as teammate Marcel Hirscher, the reigning overall and slalom champion, also failed to qualify for the final.

     On Saturday at Val d’Isere, Ligety missed a World Cup giant slalom for the first time since 2009.

     The two-time giant slalom world champion and four-time World Cup title winner was the first racer out of the gate, but slid out on his left hip on the lower portion of the steep and icy Face de Belvarde.

     Ligety won the opening two giant slalom races of the season, including a 1-2 finish with Miller last weekend in the Audi Birds of Prey giant slalom at Beaver Creek. Ligety hadn’t missed a giant slalom podium since March of 2012. He had made the top 30 final of every Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom since Feb. 21, 2009 and had landed on every giant slalom podium since the opening the 2012 season with victory in Soelden, Austria.

     Miller also did not finish the first run.

     Two-time World Cup overall king Marcel Hirscher, 24, of Austria came from behind to win Saturday’s GS after finishing third in the opening run.

     Hirscher took over the GS lead from Ligety by a 220-200 margin after three events. In the overall standings, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal continues to lead the way 360-335 over second-place Hirscher, with Ligety holding onto third place with 269 points and Miller falling to ninth place, 153.

     The American men head to Val Gardena, Italy for super G and the famed Saslong classic downhill Dec. 20-21, followed by giant slalom at Alta Badia, Italy on Sunday, Dec 22.

 

Women race at St. Moritz, Vonn doesn’t

     Four-time World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn, 29, of Vail, Co. opted to skip St. Moritz last weekend in favor of training for the upcoming downhill in Val d’Isere, Fra.

     But Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather and Austria’s Anna Fenninger made some inroads on the leaderboard in the overall standings.

     Weirather and Fenninger placed 1-3 in Saturday’s St. Moritz super giant slalom and tightened up the top-four women’s overall standings in which only 45 points separate first place from fourth place.

     Lara Gut, 22, of Switz. continues to lead the way with 482 points and 29-year-old German star Maria Hoefl-Riesch is second with 461. Weirather has 445 and Fenninger 437. Slalom leader Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, of the U.S. Ski Team is still the slalom leader with 100 points, but her DNF in Sunday’s St. Moritz GS caused her to drop back in the overall to seventh, 220 points.

     As for the U.S. at St. Moritz, Julia Mancuso, Megan McJames and Stacey Cook had things to brag about.

     Two-time Olympian Cook, 29, of Mammoth Mountain, Ca. continued to make strides in super G Saturday as she jumped from the 37th start position to finish 16th.

     It marked the second straight weekend Cook has made a big move in super G after vaulting from 38th to 18th Dec. 8 in the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup super G in Lake Louise.

     Olympic champion Mancuso. 29, of Squaw Valley, Ca. made another leap toward her champion level form Sunday with an encouraging 12th in the St. Moritz giant slalom to lead the U.S. Ski Team. It was her best World Cup finish this season.

     Reigning NorAm overall champion Megan McJames, 26, of Park City, Utah landed her first Audi FIS Alpine World Cup points of the season and first World Cup points since 2010 with 23rd.

     Slalom world champion Shiffrin, who scored the first World Cup GS podium of her career two weeks ago at Beaver Creek, Co., started bib No. 1 in the opening run and slid off course over a roll and did not finish.

     Tessa Worley of France and Beaver Creek winner Jessica Lindell-Vikarby of Sweden went 1-2 on the sun soaked 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships venue.

 

Austria’s Schild wins a record 34th slalom

     Budding World Cup slalom superstar Mikaela Shiffrin of Eagle/Vail, Colo. took a back seat to veteran Marlies Schild of Austria during Tuesday’s Audi FIS Alpine World Cup women’s slalom race at Courchevel, France.

     Schild, 32, captured the 34th slalom victory over her storied career and tied Swiss great Vreni Schneider for the most slalom wins in women's World Cup history. Having first won a slalom at Sestriere, Italy in March 2004, Schild prevailed by .33 seconds over Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter on the 59-gate course.

     World champion Shiffrin, 18, skied to an uncharacteristic 12th place Tuesday. But, after just two slaloms, Shiffrin (122 points) retained the slalom lead despite her conservative finish. Hansdotter (112) is second and Schild (100) third.

     Resi Stiegler of Jackson Hole, Wyo. earned her first points of the winter with 21st.

     Schild became the oldest women to win a World Cup slalom. Her younger sister Bernadette Schild placed third—her second career World Cup podium.

     Shiffrin said, “Not my best day. I didn’t have a great feeling. I was just a bit nervous. Sometimes I don’t get that great feeling I want in the morning. I thought I had that today but it didn’t go that way.”

     Women’s Technical Head Coach Roland Pfeifer added, “Mikaela wasn't able to get the battery charged and that happens. She really had a bad day today and that’s probably not the last time that's going to happen. We just need to accept that the other athletes were skiing better today. There were just better skiers on the hill today.”

     Marlies Schild, the girlfriend of Austria’s superstar Benjamin Raich, was certainly one of them.

     She told fis-ski.com, “I wasn't really nervous, because I knew there was no other way but to give it all out to be faster than my younger sister. It was just a lot of fun again, that is the main thing. The hill here in Courchevel is not easy. It’s steep and you have to push really hard. You simply can’t be conservative.

     “It’s been two years since I last won a race. Everybody has been telling me about this record. Now that’s it is done, I’ll be able to ski with less pressure. My self-confidence is back. My plan was to retire earlier in my career. But I lost some time with my injuries. I’ve always had the feeling I could achieve more. That's why I’m still on the tour.”

     Next: The U.S. women move to Val d’Isere, Fra. for downhill and giant slalom Dec. 21-22.




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