US teen Shiffrin wins WCup slalom for 3rd victory
By ERIC WILLEMSEN
the Associated Press | January 16,2013
Mikaela Shiffrin, a former Burke Mountain Academy student, speeds past a pole on her way to clock the second fastest time in the first run of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup slalom, in Flachau, Austria, Tuesday.
FLACHAU, Austria — American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin won a World Cup night slalom Tuesday, buoyed by a roaring crowd for her third victory in her first year on the circuit.
Shiffrin was second after the opening run and third fastest in the final run to finish in a combined time of 1 minute, 51.45 seconds.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I heard the crowd and I tried to let them take me down the course. They wanted me to win. That gave me wings.”
The Vail, Colo., skier was already the first American to win two World Cup races before turning 18. She is exactly the same age — 17 years, 308 days — as Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell was when she earned her third career victory in 1971. Moser-Proell holds the career record of 62 World Cup wins.
Shiffrin leads the slalom standings, her earlier victories coming in Are, Sweden, and Zagreb, Croatia. With the win in Flachau — the race with the highest prize money on the women’s World Cup circuit — Shiffrin’s earnings this season rose to $175,500.
“Maybe I will make a trip to Maui,” Shiffrin said. “I am a 17-year-old. What do I have to do with money?”
Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was second, 0.85 seconds behind.
Tanja Poutiainen of Finland was third, trailing Shiffrin by 1.10. Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, who led Shiffrin by 0.56 after the first run, straddled a gate shortly before the end of her final run and failed to finish.
Overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia placed fifth, extending her lead over second-place Hoefl-Riesch to 590 points. Defending champion Lindsey Vonn skipped the race because she has not been able to train enough in the slalom. She returned to the circuit after an almost four-week break to recover from an intestinal illness.
Shiffrin wasn’t strong in the first section of both runs but accelerated in the steeper middle parts and finished strongly.
“I just kept going,” Shiffrin said about her second run.
In her final run, Hoefl-Riesch stretched her lead over Shiffrin to 1.03 seconds before straddling a gate and missing out on her 25th World Cup victory.
“I made a turn just too early,” Hoefl-Riesch said. “I knew Mikaela had a good run, and I knew that a lead of half a second can disappear pretty quickly.”
The former overall champion, who won November’s season-opening slalom in Levi, Finland, would have been the first German skier to earn 10 World Cup slalom victories.
In Flachau two years ago, she shared a victory with Tanja Poutiainen of Finland.
“You can’t explain why but sometimes it suddenly all fits together,” said Hoefl-Riesch, whose Levi win is her sole victory of the season. “I am not having a bad season, it’s just some minor things that have been missing to be at the top.”
Four racers were faster than Shiffrin at the first intermediate time, but only Hoefl-Riesch managed to beat the American from top to bottom.
World slalom champion Marlies Schild, who won two of the last three races in Flachau, is recovering from knee surgery. Younger sister Bernadette finished sixth for her second straight top-10 finish after placing seventh in Zagreb 10 days ago.
The women’s World Cup travels to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy for speed races this weekend. The final slalom before next month’s world championships is on Jan. 27 in Maribor, Slovenia.