SPINDLERUV MLYN, Czech Republic – World Slalom Champion Marlies Schild sealed the third World Cup slalom globe of her career on Saturday, winning her seventh race of the season on a sunny day in the northern Czech mountains.
After putting down a first-run lead on a course set by her coaches, Schild also blasted down the second run (set by France) faster than anyone else and won in a combined time of 1 minute, 43.85 seconds.
“It was another tough fight today and there was pressure after winning the first run, but it is another amazing day,” said Schild, who also won the previous two World Cup slaloms in Spindleruv Mlyn in 2008 and 2005. “I like the hill here, I like the people … I always ski good here, so that’s also very good. The slope was perfect today. It was very hard in the first run and the second run it was really warm and it got a little bit softer but it was OK, too. I skied as the last racer with the best time. That’s always a good sign of a good slope.”
With 600 points and having won every slalom race she has finished this season (she DNFed twice), including her world championship gold medal, Schild sealed the 2011 slalom globe, as her nearest competitors in the discipline – Tanja Poutiainen and Maria Riesch – did not build enough points to catch her on Saturday. Poutiainen ended up ninth and Riesch, after finishing 15th in the first run, slid onto her hip and off-course in the second run.
“I didn’t expect that I will get the globe before the last race in Lenzerheide,” said Schild, who also won slalom globes in 2007 and 2008 but said the 2011 globe is something very special because it is her first following her horrible injury (broken leg) that kept her off skis for the 2008-2009 season. “So the last race will be really, really fun. It’s been an amazing season for me. I won every race that I finished. It’s great.”
Following by less than two tenths of a second after the first run, Schild’s teammate, world slalom champion silver medalist Kathrin Zettel, kept enough speed in run No. 2 to finish second in the race, 0.93 seconds behind Schild.
“I’m happy with the second place today,” Zettel said. “I was fighting so hard for this place. It wasn’t so easy in the second run, so I’m lucky. The upper part was much better, it was much turnier the second run. I felt well there. Into the lower part, I lost some speed, it was not that good so I was hoping for the lead in the finish.”
Zettel has struggled with hip pain for several months and didn’t get her first podium of the season until the Arber-Zwiesel slalom, which she followed up with the silver medal in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. She said she is feeling stronger now than she has all season but is still definitely not in perfect health.
“I’m not fine; the whole year it’s changing, sometimes I feel good and sometimes bad,” she said.
Continuing what she agreed was a golden period in her career following her world championship gold medal in giant slalom, Tina Maze rounded out the slalom podium in third on Saturday, finishing 1.16 seconds off of Schild’s winning time.
“It’s [been] really good after world champs, I ski very self confidently,” Maze said, donning golden sunglasses to match her golden streak, which has boosted her to 1003 World Cup overall points, more than she’s ever earned in any of her 10 years racing on the World Cup. “I missed that at the start of the season. I found the right rhythm now. I’m really satisfied. These three weekends have been really good. I’m looking forward to the last one in Lenzerheide.”
Though she is building her results in giant slalom (eighth in Friday’s race in Spindl), Schild said she is not planning on adding more disciplines back to her racing repertoire next season and is looking forward to having an enjoyable time skiing in Lenzerheide.
“The plan is to have fun,” Schild said, adding that although she has proceeded to win all but one of the last several slalom races she has led after the first run, it is never something she expects. “Of course, it’s an amazing series for me to win every race I’ve finished this season, but it’s also a lot of pressure because everyone expects me to win it. It’s also fun to be able to ski so good.”
Riesch is one racer who won’t enjoy the release of pressure until after World Cup finals. After she crashed out of the race on Saturday, Lindsey Vonn proceeded to finish 16th, earning 15 more points, so now she only trails Riesch by 23 points in the overall Cup standings. Riesch, who finished last in Friday’s giant slalom, still leads the standings with 1678 points, but Vonn now has 1655.
The race for fourth, fifth and sixth places was tight on Saturday, as Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner took fourth with a time of 1:45.41, Slovakia’s Veronika Zuzulova fifth in 1:45.42 and Italy’s Manuela Moelgg sixth in 1:45.60.
Racing in bib No. 30, Italy’s Irene Curtoni’s seventh place (in 1:46.31) was her best World Cup career result to date. Susanne Riesch’s eighth place (1:46.43) was her best result since her fourth in Levi and following Poutiainen’s ninth (1:46.45), Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser’s matched Friday’s GS result in 10th (1:46.50).
Go here for video with Schild, Zettel and Maze.
Click here for complete results.
The ladies alpine World Cup tour continues on Monday with downhill training in Lenzerheide.
By Shauna Farnellfirstname.lastname@example.org