In the start gate of second run this evening, snow was falling hard and Veronika Velez Zuzulova sat 0.17 seconds off of first-run leader, Nastasia Noens of France. Zuzulova knew she could win on the hill since she had accomplished it three days prior. But could she pull it off two races in a row under the lights?
Through the finish line, her time flashed in green and Zuzulova’s reaction was unmistakable. With Noens unable to maintain her lead, the Slovakian snagged her second slalom win of the week in Flachau, Austria, calling it “amazing.”
“For the first one, I had to wait a long time,” she said, referring to the three-year hiatus between victories. “For the second one, two days. But now I am happy that there is a short break because this is the kind of stuff I am not living every day. It cost me a lot of energy. A lot of emotions. So, it will be nice that I can go home (for a) little bit and take in new energy for the next race.”
Since Tuesday’s race, snow conditions improved thanks to colder weather, allowing the track to firm up. This created the opportunity for a little history to be made: two Slovakians on the World Cup podium. Petra Vlhova skied a smoking second run to land in third for the evening – an improvement over her sixth-place finish earlier in the week – and take her third trip to the podium this season.
“Yeah, for sure, that we are making history from the beginning of the season, it’s not just today … it’s amazing,” Zuzulova said. “The people from Slovakian TV they just told us we are beating even ice hockey. The people are watching in Slovakia. It’s really something amazing because the ice hockey is the sport number one in Slovakia, and now it’s maybe skiing.”
Between the two was this season’s Queen of Consistency, Frida Hansdotter of Sweden, coming in second place. She continues to lead the slalom standings – 85 points ahead of Zuzulova – after finishing on the podium in six of the seven slalom races this season. The Hermann Maier World Cup track also seems to suit Hansdotter, who has been on the podium at all of the last four World Cup slalom races at the venue.
“Yes, I really like this,” the Swede said, who now holds the record for most podium finishes by a woman in Flachau. “I actually think night events (are) so fun. It’s such a nice atmosphere, and it’s so fun to race when you see all the people down here cheering for you. So I love this race.”
While the top three celebrated their victories, two Austrians also had some big jumps to celebrate. Julia Gruenwald, bib 38, skied to 10th place, and her teammate, Katharina Gallhuber, bib 47, finished in 11th – both career best results.
The Americans failed to carry their momentum from Tuesday night into Friday’s race, with only Resi Stiegler earning a second run. She finished in 28th place. Her coach, however, made some history of her own. Karin Harjo, formerly of the USSA Western Region staff before joining the national team, is believed to be the first woman ever to set a World Cup slalom course as per existing records.
The technical skiers get one day off before competition continues with giant slalom at Flachau this Sunday. First run starts at 9:15 a.m. local time.
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By Hank McKee
- Velez-Zuzulova, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Vlhova, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Noens, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Strachova, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Holdener, Head/Head/Head
- Loeseth, Volkl/Lange/Marker
- Gisin, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Thalmann, Head/Head/Head
- Gruenwald, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Women’s World Cup slalom, Flachau, Austria, Jan. 15, 2016. … It is a make-up race rescheduled from Ofterschwang, Germany, where it had been set for Jan. 17. … It is the 19th of 41 races on the women’s World Cup schedule … the seventh of 10 scheduled slaloms.
- It is the fourth career World Cup win, and second consecutive, for Veronika Velez-Zuzulova.
- It is the 21st career World Cup podium for Frida Hansdotter … her sixth of the season, all in slalom.
- It is the third career World Cup podium for Petra Vlhova. … all of them this season and all in slalom. … It is the first double podium World Cup finish for Slovakia.
- Erin Mielzynski matches her third best career finish at Flachau. … It is her third best of four finishes this season. … It is the fourth best finish of the season for Marie-Michele Gagnon. … It is the seventh score in seven slaloms this season for Resi Stiegler.
- Lara Gut (did not race) holds the lead of the Women’s World Cup overall standings 738-700 over Lindsey Vonn (did not race). … Frida Hansdotter is third oerall with 661pts.
- Hansdotter leads the slalom standings 505-420 over Velez-Zuzulova. … Sarka Strachova (fifth in race) is third with 396pts. … Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) is eighth with 200pts.
- Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup standings 2384-1842 over Switzerland. … Italy is third at 1693pts. … The U.S. is fourth with 1461pts and Canada tenth with 567pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|1||4||705287||VELEZ ZUZULOVA Veronika||1984||SVK||55.68||54.31||1:49.99||0.00|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|30||197319||BAUD MUGNIER Adeline||1992||FRA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|