Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Slalom ace Shiffrin is Snow Queen in Zagreb

Alpine World Cup update

Mikaela Shiffrin races down the World Cup course at Sem-mering, Austria Dec. 29. Shif-frin DNFd the Semmering sla-lom, but bounced back Jan. 4 at Zagreb, Croatia to win her sec-ond slalom in six events and take over the slalom lead. Photo by Mitchell Gunn/ESPA

     It’s a new year, but last winter’s Audi FIS World Cup “Rookie of the Year” Mikaela Shiffrin from Eagle/Vail, Colo continues to make big news during her sophomore season with the U.S. Ski Team.

     Friday, the 17-year-old product of Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy thrilled an overflowing crowd in Zagreb, Croatia and millions more watching across the world on television with a stunning 1.19-second World Cup slalom victory.

     In the process Shiffrin captured the prestigous Snow Queen Trophy and regained the World Cup slalom title lead.

     The wire-to-wire win rewrote history. Shiffrin became the first American to win two World Cup races in a single season before the age of 18. She also became the youngest woman to win two World Cup slalom races in a single season since 1977.

     Said Shiffrin, “I was in the zone where you feel like you’re skiing well and you almost feel unstoppable. If you win, you always want to win by more and that just means you’re always trying to ski better.

     “It’s definitely one of my goals to win the slalom title and then the giant slalom title, and sometime the overall. Right now, I am taking it day-by-day and race-by-race.”

     In an event with the biggest single-race payday on the women’s tour at about $55,000, Shiffrin regained the World Cup slalom lead because Slovenia’s Tina Maze, 28, did not finish. Shiffrin has 336 points and Maze 310.

     Shiffrin also slipped past her teammate and reigning overall champion Lindsey Vonn in the 2012-13 overall standings. Shiffrin moved up to sixth place overall with 426 points. Vonn is seventh with 414 and American Julia Mancuso is eighth, 391.

     Maze, 28, maintained her huge overall lead with 1,139 points. Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch is second with 687 and Austria’s Kathrin Zettel stands in third place with 597.

     Jackson Hole’s Resi Stiegler placed ninth in Friday’s Zagreb slalom to return to the World Cup top-10 for the first time since suffering an ACL injury at the 2012 World Cup Finals.

     Meanwhile, Olympic and four-time Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall champion Vonn, 28, returned to on snow training Thursday, Jan. 3 in Europe. “It feels great to be back and I can’t wait to start racing again,” said Vonn on Facebook.

     Following continued fatigue from a late fall stomach illness Vonn took a two-week break from the World Cup tour in order to ensure she could again compete at the highest level.

     She anticipates returning to the World Cup tour for a scheduled downhill and super G Jan. 12-13 at St. Anton, Aust. There, Vonn swept a downhill and super combined during a 2007 stop at the Arlberg resort en route to the first World Cup overall and downhill titles of her career.

     In Sunday’s men’s slalom at Zagreb, Dartmouth Ski Team alum David Chodounsky, 28, of Crested Butte, Colo. sliced through fog and rain to lead the U.S. Ski Team with 18th place on a heavily-rutted course.

     Austrian Marcel Hirscher became “King” of the Snow Queen Trophy with the victory. It was Hirscher's third win and ninth podium of the season to extend his lead in both the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall and slalom standings.

     Next stop on the men's tour is Saturday, Jan. 12 at Adelboden, Switz. It’s the only major giant slalom Ligety has yet to win. Sunday’s slalom will complete the technical weekend.

     Hirscher leads the overall standings 740-689 over Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway. U.S. racer Ted Ligety is third with 552 points and leads the GS standings 360-320 over Hirscher.

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