Kirchgasser seizes her chance to win title
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia - Reuters
Michaela Kirchgasser of Austria clears a gate during the women’s slalom World Cup race yesterday in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.Michaela Kirchgasser made the most of an error by Austrian team leader Marlies Schild to win her first World Cup slalom in Slovenia yesterday.
Already winner of a giant slalom in Sierra Nevada five years ago, the 26-year-old Austrian won both runs in Kranjska Gora in a combined time of one minute and 47.25 seconds.
Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen, one of the most consistent specialists of the last decade, was second and 0.65 adrift while Slovakia’s Veronika Zuzulova was third, 1.34 off the pace.
“I don’t know what to say. I never gave up,” said Kirchgasser on the finish line. “This means so much to me after all those tough years. It was also tough today, it was the first time I was leading after the first run, it was a new situation for me.
“I didn’t expect to come back so strong this season, especially not in slalom,” she added.
Local skier Tina Maze was fourth, missing the podium by 0.32 seconds.
Schild was the clear favourite after winning the first five slaloms of the winter but she missed a gate early in the opening leg and slid out of contention.
“I was feeling very well but the sector was too straight and fast,” she said.
Olympic champion and overall World Cup holder Maria Hoefl-Riesch was also eliminated in the first leg.
Lindsey Vonn finished a good seventh and stayed well ahead in the overall World Cup standings.
The American is on 970 points ahead of Maze on 688.