Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Shiffrin straddles gate trying for slalom win

Tech races in Austria

Precocious American slalom star Mikaela Shiffrin of Eagle/Vail, Colo. discovered Saturday how fickle the fortunes can be on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup.

At Semmering, Aust. in the night slalom final, the 17-year-old product of Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy was charging for back-to-back World Cup slalom wins when she hooked an edge, hiked and eventually straddled in the night final.

Shiffrin had been fourth after the first run. Instead she left the door open for Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia to snag the first victory of her 12-year World Cup career.

Austrian Kathrin Zettel produced a blazing final run to finish second ahead of overall and now slalom leader Tina Maze of Slovenia.

Shiffrin (196 points) dropped to fourth in the World Cup slalom standings, a mere 34 points behind Maze (230) in the hotly-contested discipline title chase.

Maze finished third in Saturday’s slalom and has now amassed a massive 1,059 overall points before the start of 2013. German Maria Hoefl-Riesch (632) is second, a distant 427 points behind the Slovenian.

American Lindsey Vonn did not compete in last week’s GS/SL at Semmering and fell to fifth-place overall with 414 points behind third-place Zettel (582) and fourth-place Anna Fenninger of Austria (450). Julie Mancuso is seventh (351) and Shiffrin 10th (286).

Friday at Semmering, Shiffrin battled sickness and a rugged course to finish a career-best eighth in GS. Wind and fog made an already bumpy course even more challenging. Fenninger posted the wire-to-wire win by a massive 1.1-second margin over Maze.

Also Saturday, Travis Ganong, 24, of Squaw Valley, Ca. delivered a gutsy run on the grueling Stelvio downhill to finish a career best seventh in the annual holiday World Cup downhill at Bormio, Italy.

It was the tightest race in recent history with the top four separated by .02 seconds on the tour’s second-longest DH. Austrian Hannes Reichelt and Italian Dominik Paris tied for the win, .01 in front of World Cup downhill/overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway. Racers hit speeds of 75 mph.

The World Cup tour resumed New Years Day with a men's and women's parallel slalom city event at Munich, Germany. Slalom and overall points were awarded.

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