Vail’s Vonn 6th at Finland World Cup race
LEVI, Finland – Marlies Schild of Austria won the first women’s World Cup slalom of the season, edging Olympic champion Maria Riesch of Germany by 0.03 seconds in a race north of the Arctic Circle. Lindsey Vonn was sixth.
Schild was fifth after the first run and trailed Riesch by 0.81 seconds, then had the fastest time on the second leg of the Levi Black course. Tanja Poutiainen of Finland was third.
Vonn looked set to challenge for the podium after a fast start to her second leg, but the American nearly lost her balance halfway down the course.
“I just made a really, really big mistake unfortunately,” she said. “I was going a little bit too straight and I was trying a little bit too hard. Sometimes you make mistakes when you are risking.”
The grippy snow caused havoc for later starters including Sarah Schleper, of Vail, who finished outside the first run top 30.
“Sarah definitely had a good opportunity, but just skied impatient and too direct on the steeps,” said women’s tech Head Coach Trevor Wagner. “She could have popped one in there easily with the way she was skiing up top. The snow was really grippy and kind of chattery. If you tried to cut the turn off at all, you paid the price for it.”
“The snow was actually great, it was just a little bit more aggressive than we anticipated,” added Vonn. “I think everyone’s skis where a little bit too sharp, which is a good problem to have. We’ve got a final training block in Vail for the next couple of weeks and then we head over to Aspen for Thanksgiving and onto Lake Louise. It’s going to be an exciting couple of weeks in North America.”
Susanne Riesch, the runner-up’s younger sister, was fourth after setting the second fastest time in the afternoon.
Schild returned to the World Cup circuit in 2009 after missing a season with a broken leg. She also won on this course in 2006.
“I think I like Levi,” she said.
Schild captured the slalom World Cup in 2007 and 2008 and took the silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics. She said it’s too early to tell whether she’s back in top form.
“I had a very good preparation period, we had very good possibilities to train and also my physical condition was very good,” she said.
Riesch, who won last year in Levi, said she wasn’t aggressive enough late in the race.
“I was a little bit too careful at the beginning of the steep,” she said.
After two races, Riesch leads the overall standings with 125 points. She is followed by Poutiainen (110) and Schild (100).
“This is a really special race for me,” Poutiainen said. “We have this chance once a year to race in a home race.”
Levi, about 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is the world’s northernmost World Cup venue. The small ski resort is hosting World Cup slaloms for the fifth time since 2006.
The U.S. Ski Team contributed to this report.
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