Schild earns 5th straight World Cup slalom win
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
ZAGREB, Croatia – Marlies Schild stretched her World Cup slalom winning streak to five, cruising to the victory Tuesday night while overall leader Lindsey Vonn finished ninth despite a stomach illness.
Schild became the first skier to win five straight World Cup races in one discipline since Vonn won the first five downhills of the 2009-10 season.
The Austrian world slalom champion was fastest in both runs and finished in an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 1.32 seconds, topping second-place Tina Maze of Slovenia by 1.40 seconds.
Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser was 2.27 behind for her first career top-three finish in slalom.
“It would do for me if I won by just a hundredth of a second. (What’s) important is to come first,” said Schild, who won the Zagreb event for a record fourth time after also coming first in 2005, ’06 and ’11.
Schild now has 32 World Cup slalom victories and 34 overall. She is just two away from matching the record of 34 slalom wins held by Swiss great Vreni Schneider, who also won five straight events in the 1989-90 season.
“I was thinking before the final run: If I win again, then it’s a whole lot of wins,” Schild said. “But I put that out of my head immediately … I did not want to hold back and give it all in the final run. It has worked again.”
Croatia’s Janica Kostelic holds the record for most slalom wins in one season – eight in the 2000-01 campaign.
Maze had two aggressive runs to come closest to Schild again, like last week in Lienz, Austria.
“If you want to be in front, you have to attack,” Maze said. “Marlies is skiing just too well so I am happy with second place.”
Vonn, who failed to finish in Zagreb the past three years, had a blistering final run to earn her second top-10 finish in slalom this season after placing eighth in Flachau two weeks ago.
In her first run, the American was slowed by a stomach illness, which kept her out of bed for most of the night. She lost time considerably in every section and finished 3.02 behind Schild before falling flat in exhaustion.
“Puking and feeling absolutely terrible today,” Vonn wrote on Twitter shortly before the race. “Didn’t get to inspect the course but still going to try and race. Here goes nothing.”
Vonn still placed 24th to qualify for the final run, during which she was almost flawless while posting the second-fastest time to finish 3.51 seconds behind Schild.
Her main contender for the overall title, defending champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, failed to score points.
Hoefl-Riesch was suffering from a cold that forced her to skip Monday’s training, and was 1.66 behind in eighth after the opening run. But she caught a bump and skied out early in the second.
Vonn leads the overall standings with 641 points, 101 clear of Schild, who does not compete in speed events. Maze is third with 390, while Hoefl-Riesch is sixth with 326 points.
Vonn’s 16-year-old American teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, who finished third in the Lienz slalom last week, went out in the first run when she straddled a gate before the first intermediate time in the upper part of the course, where visibility was hampered by thick fog.
A men’s night slalom on the same course is scheduled for Thursday.
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