February 25, 2007
SIERRA NEVADA, Spain (Feb. 25) - Austrian Marlies Schild clinched the World Cup slalom title and took the overall points lead Sunday, winning a slalom in which, moments before, Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) was leading when she straddled a gate. Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA), looking to become the overall World Cup champion, was 15th.
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Schild and Stiegler had been 1-2 in the first run and Stiegler tore down the top half of the 57-gate second run, devouring time and leading by .99 as she passed the lone timing check. But within seconds, she straddled a gate coming out of a flush and lost her bid for the first World Cup top-3 of her career.
Schild's sixth SL win of the season came in 1:43.61 to clinch the slalom crown. Second place went to Finn Tanja Poutiainen in 1:43.93. Mancuso's time was 1:46.38.
Stiegler: "My mind goes 100 mph..."
"I was so happy, it's such a nice day out," Stiegler said, adding that in between runs, she "tried to stay focused, stay in my 'now' and not worry about falling or making mistakes, or coming down winning. My mind goes 100 miles an hour, so I just tried to ski like I know I can.
"Yeah, I wanted to win it and I went for it. I don't have anything to show for it (i.e., no result), but I've got a lot of positives to take away. And that's the consequences, really - especially in slalom, of putting my heart into it and taking risks."
Stiegler, who was eighth a week ago in SL at the World Championships in Sweden and whose best World Cup performance has been fourth a couple of times, said she could feel her confidence rising in recent races. Saturday, she started 51st in a giant slalom and finished 10th. "It's been coming along but it's still frustrating to lose this result," she said. "It's a bummer, but I have to move on."
As she scorched the top of the second run, she went into a combination of gates and straddled as she finished a flush, i.e., several slalom poles in short, rapid-fire sequence. "I went into the flush and I knew I had a lot of speed coming through there," she recalled, "so I was focusing on the next couple of turns, having to get after it...and I caught my tip as I came out," Stiegler said.
Knight: She took risks you must take to win in SL
"The snow was amazing. I haven't seen snow like this all year long," she said. "It was perfect yesterday for the GS - that second run was awesome (as she vaulted from 22nd to 10th with the fifth-fastest run). But it's been so warm, it's crazy how nice the snow has held up. It's perfect."
Coach Chris Knight took a step back from the moment and said, "When you haven't had a podium, and you're going for the win - the win, not just a top-3 finish, that can happen. Resi has such great speed and she was carrying so much speed that she got caught up...
"That's what happens, though, when you're going for a win, taking risks and not just playing it safe. And Resi was definitely going for the win.
"In the first run, the top half was grippy and it changed for the second run to super, super hard snow, and that's where she got caught because she had so much speed. She's got unreal potential and I think she really could thrive from this result."
Knight also was amped with Mancuso's second run. Mancuso, whose weakest event is slalom, was first when she came down but was passed by others after her "but she went for it and have an outstanding run."
Mancuso still in hunt for No. 1 spot
The win pushed Schild, who skis all events, past teammate Renate Goetschl for the World Cup lead. Schild has 1,052 points to 1,019 for Goetschl; Nicole Hosp, another Austrian who was fourth, leap-frogged over Mancuso into third overall with 989 and Mancuso drops a place to fourth (959).
The standings figure to get shuffled next weekend with a super combined, downhill and supeer G in Tarvisio, Italy. There have been two super combis this season - Schild won the first and Mancuso took the second.
Goetschl, who doesn't normally ski slalom, claimed the SG title this past week when Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) announced she would skip the rest of the season to rest and rehab a grade 1 anterior cruciate ligament sprain to her right knee. Goetschl leads the DH points with 525 to Mancuso's 391. Kildow remains fifth in the overall points, second in super G and one point back of Mancuso in downhill.
For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=AL&event_id=20286.