ZAGREB-SLJEME, Croatia – As Lindsey Vonn skied off-course in the second
run of the women’s World Cup race in Zagreb, still in pain and not
feeling like herself, French racer Sandrine Aubert proved once again
that she is becoming a serious threat on the slalom circuit, taking
over the lead in the slalom standings and being crowned Zagreb Snow
Aubert, who was fourth after the first run, won with a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, .36 seconds, followed by Kathrin Zettel, who was .43 seconds back and Susanne Riesch, .74 seconds back.
“To be Snow Queen, we dream of it,” said Aubert, whose victory was her second this season after winning the Are slalom and finishing second in the last slalom in Lienz. “This is probably the most exciting race on the whole tour. With the people we’ve got here, it is fantastic.”
Last year’s Snow Queen Maria Riesch was fourth, .97 seconds back. Aubert now leads the slalom standings with 316 points to Riesch’s 293.
Vonn, who was skiing with a brace on her left arm after suffering a deep bone bruise in a bad crash a few days ago in the Lienz giant slalom, was tied for 14th after her first run. She went into the second run charging, but took too straight a line and missed a gate at the top of the course.
“I was just trying to make up some time and I just went a little too straight,” Vonn said, adding that she thought she was skiing better in the second run than in the first. “But you know, I’m not able to trust myself. It’s mostly to do with my hand and not risking enough. I think that’s why I’m having trouble. I was just trying to give it everything I had the second run and just tactically made a mistake – went too straight – and that’s what happens. I have to be smarter than that.”
Mother Nature finally cooperated with organizers of the Zagreb race, who said that on Saturday before the race, the finish area was better suited for mud wrestling than skiing. After 10 days of rain, cold temperatures overnight finally left the landscape looking like winter for race day.
Racers say the primary challenges of the Zagreb course are its considerable length and gliding sections.
“This is one of the longer courses, but there are a lot of flats, so you have to make sure you’re working the flats,” said U.S. racer Sterling Grant, who was 37th after the first run.
Besides Canadian Brigitte Acton, who is consistently in the top 20 these days with a 19th-place finish, luck was not on the side of North American racers on Sunday. After her breakthrough pair of races in Lienz where she was the top U.S. racer in 13th place in the giant slalom and fifth in slalom, Sarah Schleper, starting No. 37, hooked a gate near the top of the course in the first run and came to a complete stop. She skated furiously back down the hill but didn’t make the second run cut.
“There’s always so much going on in slalom,” she said. “You’re running at the back of the pack and trying to navigate ruts and bumps and holes and still trying to compete with the girls at the front. You have to go even faster than them and the consistency is so hard especially if you’re going for it.”
Hailey Duke made a sloppy pole plant at the top of the course in the first run and punched herself in the face, then went down about halfway down the course.
“It just didn’t work out,” she said. “I got back, my pole just got jacked … at least I think that’s what happened.”
Kaylin Richardson also didn’t finish the first run and Canadian Anna Goodman, who would have been in the top 10 after the first run, crashed just a few meters from the finish line, injuring her right knee. She was taken off the hill in a gurney.
“It was a frustrating day for all of these girls,” said U.S. Technical Coach Trevor Wagner. “Lindsey couldn’t lay it down over that gate or she would have straddled. She’s still a little tentative with her arm, but it’s healing up nicely and she’ll get another good break here before going into speed races in Austria next weekend.”
The women’s World Cup continues with two downhill races and a super G in Haus im Ennstal next weekend. Vonn said that “without a doubt” the speed races will be a lot less jarring on her injured arm.
“I’m definitely excited to ski some speed now and give my hand some rest,” she said. “In the training runs I don’t have to push out of the start. I just have to save up my energy for the race start and then it will be OK. The slalom does not help. It’s so hard to put the pain behind you and just focus on skiing aggressively.”
Vonn also said that although this injury isn’t as bad as the thumb injury she sustained last season (slicing through her tendon while spraying a broken bottle of champagne after winning her second gold medal at the world championships), she said it is affecting her technical skiing more.
“I think it was easier almost with my thumb,” she said. “This is a more widespreading pain than my thumb. It’s not as localized. But it happens. I just have to keep fighting.”
by Shauna Farnell
Photos by GEPA
By Hank McKee
Women’s Slalom, Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 3, 2010
1 Aubert, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
2 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
4 Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
5 Zahrobska, Head/Head/Head
6 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Rossignol
7 Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
8 Poutiainen, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
9 Moelgg, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
10 Borssen, Nordica/Nordica/
Women’s Slalom, Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 3, 2010. … It is the 14th of 32 races on the women’s 2010 World Cup schedule. … The fifth of seven scheduled slaloms and the second in a row for the women. … It is the eighth Cup race (all slaloms) held at Zagreb, the sixth women’s slalom at the site. … Marlies Schild and Tanja Poutiainen have each won at the site twice. … It is the VIP Snow Queen Trophy race and the richest race on the women’s circuit with prizes of 135,000 euros. … There is just one more slalom to be held prior to the Olympics (Jan. 17 at Maribor)
Winning margin is .43 of a second. … Top four are within the same second. … Top eight within two seconds. … Top dozen within three seconds.
It is the fourth career World Cup win for Sandrine Aubert, all is slalom and all coming since the beginning of last March. … It is her second win this season having won at Are, Dec. 13. … She is the first French woman to win at Zagreb. … She and Tessa Worley are the only French to gain Cup wins this season.
It is the 29th career Cup podium for Kathrin Zettel. … Her 12th in slalom. … It is the second time she has finished second at Zagreb, the previous in 2006. … It is her sixth podium result of the season, without scoring a win.
It is the second career World Cup podium for Susanne Riesch, the other also in slalom and earlier this season at Are. … Thirteen of her 15 scoring results have come in slalom, the other two in combined. … It is the second time this season she has finished one place ahead of her more celebrated sister Maria.
It is the 15th time Brigitte Acton has finished among the top 20 of a World Cup race. … The fourth time this season, all coming in slalom.
Maria Riesch (4th in race) moves past Lindsey Vonn (2nd run DNF) and into the lead of the World Cup overall standings 599-594, ,,, Zettel sites third at 569. … Emily Brydon (did not race) is the top Canadian in 15th with 195pts. … Aubert takes the lead of the slalom standings 316-293 over Maria Riesch. … Sarka Zahrobska (5th in race) is third at 253. … Vonn leads the U.S. in the slalom rankings in ninth with 125pts. … Anna Goodman (1st run DNF) is the top Canadan in 17th with 64pts. … Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup standings 1791-1640 over Germany with France third at 1192. … The U.S. is fourth at 973 and Canada eighth at 552.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|Disqualified 2nd run|
|Did not qualify 1st run|
|35079||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR|
|35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG|