Stiegler wins women’s slalom national title at Aspen Highlands in career’s final race
And that’s how you do a victory lap.
Resi Stiegler closed out her 19-year ski racing career on Friday by winning the season-ending women’s slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen Highlands. The 35-year-old from Wyoming’s Jackson Hole was a three-time Olympian and one of the more exuberant and loved American skiers.
“It feels so good … this is the absolute best way to go out,” Stiegler said. “To be honest, I kind of had to stay focused to the very end, because I’m a fighter and I’ve always wanted to win everything. I know in these days you want to celebrate everything and be ready to retire, but for me, I wanted to win so badly and go out with the fight I’ve always had and the best skiing I’ve always had.”
Stiegler finished Friday’s race with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 24.21 seconds and was fourth after the first run, only 0.22 out of first place. Australia’s Madison Hoffman, who skis for the University of Utah, finished second, 0.30 back, while University of Denver skier Katie Hensien was third, 0.80 back of Stiegler.
Storm Klomhaus and Stefanie Fleckenstein, who were 1-2, respectively, after the first slalom run, failed to finish the race. Klomhaus straddled a gate just before the finish. Hoffman had the fastest second run, moving up from 14th to second overall, while Stiegler had the second fastest second run.
Lake Tahoe’s Lila Lapanja, who won both the alpine combined and giant slalom national championships this week, finished eighth in slalom.
The race was held despite fresh snowfall overnight that organizers had to pack down in order to create a raceable course Friday, a change from the warm, dry spring conditions seen throughout most of U.S. nationals these past two weeks.
For Stiegler, the win wrapped up one of the longer careers seen in the sport. According to the U.S. ski team, Stiegler finishes with 178 World Cup starts — her lone podium having been in 2012 — eight world championship appearances, three Olympic appearances and four national championships.
“I just had to stay super focused, and today I was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been, but I had my brother (Seppi) here on the hill and my best friend (U.S. ski team alumna Sarah Schleper) went up on the hill and got me fired up … so that always helps a little bit,” Stiegler said. “And obviously racing in Aspen again, it’s like our home hill. We race World Cups here, it’s close to Jackson, and it’s in the U.S. They put on a great show for the last race of the season for all of us.”
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This past season brought with it Hailey Swirbul’s greatest individual result as a professional cross-country ski racer. But any real satisfaction she received always came when racing alongside her teammates, notably during world champs.