Zuzulova opens 2013 with second career win
Veronika Velez Zuzulova closed out 2012 with her first career win in the Semmering slalom, and on Tuesday she rang in the new year with another at the city event in Munich.
Competing in the parallel slalom, the field consisted of the top 12 slalom athletes, plus the top four athletes from the overall standings, paired in a March Madness-style No. 1 versus No. 16. Athletes race side by side, taking two runs per heat, one in each course. The advantage from one run to the next is carried over through a barge gate delay.
For the first time, this city event (basically a short slalom with GS panels) counted toward World Cup points, both overall and slalom, which generated some controversy because only 16 athletes are able to compete.
In the round of 16, Julia Mancuso matched up with Kathrin Zettel of Austria. Having won the city event in Moscow last season, Mancuso likes this style of racing. Zettel skied a very aggressive second run, but wasn't able to overtake the three-tenths advantage that Mancuso laid down in the first.
Also in the first round, it was an Are slalom rematch with Mikaela Shiffrin and Frida Hansdotter skiing neck and neck. Shiffrin nearly went out in the first lap, but she was able to pull out a slight advantage, nonetheless. She carried it through the second run to advance to the quarterfinals.
The highlight of the round of eight came in the Tina Maze/Maria Pietilae-Molmner matchup, where Maze was able to fight back in the second run from a 0.19-second deficit to advance to the next round by a mere two-hundredths of a second.
Mancuso was knocked out of the race by Tanja Poutiainen, who had the advantage after the first run and was able to expand that margin in the second. Shiffrin, too, was knocked out in the quarters. After a detrimental mistake in the first run, she never really had a chance against the evening's ultimate winner, Zuzulova.
On to the Semis, where Maze and Poutiainen were dead even after the first run, but the Overall World Cup leader Maze was able to get a half-gate lead in the first few turns of the second to advance to the finals.
Then, Zuzulova squared off against Michaela Kirchgasser. With a couple small mistakes, the Austrian wasn't able to match up with the consistency of the Slovak.
In the small final, the battle for third, Kirchgasser was able to retain a comfortable first-run lead for her first podium of the season.
The final pairing boiled down to the battle of Slovenia and Slovakia, with Maze squaring off against Zuzulova. A small mistake by Maze in the first run had her twisted up and trapped on the inside ski, leading to a half-second advantage for Slovakia. On the second lap, Maze appeared to be gaining ground, but a couple late turns sealed the deal for Zuzulova, who earned her second win in seven days.
by Hank McKee
Women's World Cup city event, Munich, Germany, Jan. 1, 2013
1 Velez Zuzulova, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
3 Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Poutiainen, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
Women's World Cup city event, Munich, Germany, Jan. 1, 2013. ... It is the third “city event” after Moscow last season and Munich in 2011. ... It is the 18th parallel slalom conducted as a World Cup.
It is the second career World Cup win for Veronika Velez Zuzulova and her second in three days. ... It is her first city event competition.
It is the 50th career World Cup podium for Tina Maze. ... her first in a city event. ... It is her 12th podium result of the season.
It is the 12th career World Cup podium for Michaela Kirchgasser. ... her first in a city event. ... It is her first podium of the season.
It is the third top five of the season for both Julia Mancuso and Mikaela Shiffrin.
Maze leads the World Cup overall standings 1059-632 over Maria Hoefl-Riesch (ninth in race). ... Kathrin Zettel (ninth in race) is third overall with 582pts. ... Maze leads the slalom standings 230-224 over Hoefl-Riesch. ... Velez Zuzulova is third with 205pts. ... Shiffrin is fourth with 106pts and Erin Mielzynski (ninth in race) is top Canadian in 13th with 76pts.