Schild still perfect
ASPEN – Marlies Schild had plenty of incentive for Sunday’s World Cup slalom in Aspen.After Schild was disqualified for straddling a gate at the end for her first run in Saturday’s giant slalom, the Austrian left the hill bitter, and without any World Cup points.”I was not happy about yesterday,” Schild said. “I wanted to come out and do (well) today, and I did.”Schild took a .73-second lead into the second run and used a nearly flawless run to finish first in 1:43.18 for her second slalom win in as many races this season. The win also gave Schild a change of heart.”After today, I like (the mountain),” said Schild, who finished second last year in the slalom standings.And in what is becoming a recurring theme, the Austrians piled on the podium, putting three in the top five and four in the top eight.Nicole Hosp finished behind teammate Schild by 0.80 seconds for silver, while Sweden’s Therese Borssen and Anja Paerson followed in third and fourth, respectively. Kathrin Zettel, who won Saturday’s giant slalom, was fifth.”We had a very good summer, good training and right now we are a little bit better than most of the other teams,” Hosp said. “Hopefully, it will be that way the whole season.”Croatia’s Ana Jelusic, who was fifth in last year’s Aspen slalom, was sixth Sunday. Germany’s Monica Mergmann-Schmuderer took seventh, while Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser followed up her first World Cup podium Saturday with an eighth-place finish on Sunday. Ski Club Vail alumna Lindsey Kildow was the top American finisher in 16th.
Despite the retirement of Austria’s Michaela Dorfmesiter, younger skiers like Zettel and Kirchgasser are filling in seamlessly.”We have a lot of younger ones, so the older ones also have to work hard,” Schild said.After three races, the Austrians have claimed seven of the nine podiums spots (Schild led a sweep in the fist slalom at Levi, Finland), and have 778 points, more than twice that of second-place Sweden (337).When asked if the women’s dominance puts pressure on the Austrian men, Schild needed little time to reply.”I don’t think so. The men are strong enough, too.” Schild said.The Austrian men, who had a downhill and super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta this weekend, have three of the top five in the overall standings.While the Austrian women are clearly at the top, the Swedes are picking up top finishes, even with Paerson not back in top form.”The Austrians are really strong, but I think the Swedes are coming along,” said Borssen, who matched her previous best World Cup finish Sunday. “We have good girls. We have Anja, me, Maria (Pietilae-Holmner), and Anna (Ottosson).”Borssen trailed Schild by 0.40 seconds after the first run, and assured herself a podium spot with a solid second pass.
“I thought I was in third when I came down,” Borssen said. “And then I looked, and I was in second and (after Schild’s run) I finished in third, so it was really great. For me, this is really big.”Paerson, who hasn’t had much slalom training, but still raced well, was happy to see Borssen leading the team.”Therese is on her way, getting really good,” Paerson said. “She’s getting ready to win a race. The whole team is getting stronger and everybody is young and fighting hard.”It’s nice, because then the pressure on me is not so high. When I’m not doing great, the other girls pick it up.”Still, Paerson feels a push from herself and the Swedish media to do well.”It put so much pressure on myself so it doesn’t matter what’s happening around me. It’s easier because you don’t have to answer so many questions. In Sweden, they aren’t so understanding.”But they do seem to be rather inquisitive.”Swedish media never want to write about my skiing. They write about my holding hands with my friends and who’s my next boyfriend,” Paerson said.
With last year’s slalom champ Janica Kostelic taking the season off to recover from several lingering injuries, Schild is the heir apparent for the crown.”We all feel sorry she can’t ski because it was fun to ski against her,” Schild said. “But maybe she’ll ski again next year. It would be a good opponent for me if (Janica) skis.”Other top returning slalom skiers include Paerson, Zettel, Tanja Poutiainen (ninth Sunday), Hosp and Borssen.Sunday’s race featured 62 starters, including nine Americans and eight Austrians. The first course featured 61 gates, all turning, while the second had 59 gates, 57 of which were turning gates. Visibility was low during the early-morning training run, and about 2 inches of snow blanketed the course early in the morning. But the course was cleared for the race, and the snow ceased less than a third through the field on the first run. After Sunday’s race, Hosp moved into first overall with 210 points followed by teammates Zettel (205) Schild (200) and Kirchgasser (128).This weekend, the women head to Lake Louise for two downhill and super-G. Some tech skiers will stick around for NorAm races in Winter Park and Keystone before hearing if the canceled St. Mortiz, Switzerland, races will be rescheduled in either Aspen or Beaver Creek the following week.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO