Sunday, November 25, 2012 5:21 pm
Zettel edges teammate Schild to win Aspen slalom
By PAT GRAHAMAP Sports Writer
Zettel finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 42.46 seconds to edge Schild by 0.67 seconds. Tina Maze of Slovenia was third in a race Lindsey Vonn skipped as she recovers from an intestinal illness.
Schild was seeking her 34th career slalom win, which would match the discipline record of Swiss great Vreni Schneider. She looked on her way, too, after a swift second run through a challenging course. But Schild was eclipsed by Zettel, the last skier of the afternoon.
"She was pretty tough to beat," Schild said.
There's something about the Aspen hill that suits Zettel. She also finished second in the giant slalom the day before, making it a highly productive weekend. She now has eight career podium finishes at this venue.
"I don't even know what to say," said Zettel, who won her first slalom race since 2010. "Aspen is a great place for me."
Teenager Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. was in the lead for a few skiers before winding up seventh. Still, it was another solid showing for the 17-year-old who's from down the road in Vail.
Very rapidly, Shiffrin is making quite a name for herself.
"I'm just trying to establish myself as a competitive racer with all these other guys," she said.
Shiffrin's definitely succeeding, with some referring to her as skiing's next prodigy.
"I don't know what I am. I just know I love to race, love to ski and love to go fast. I guess let people think what they want," Shiffrin said. "But it's very flattering."
Shiffrin was third at the last slalom event in Levi, Finland, a competition won by Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.
Hoefl-Riesch wasn't sure she'd be able to start after bruising her left arm during a crash Saturday. But she recovered enough to not only race Sunday, but race well, taking fourth.
Vonn is still regaining her strength after a bad stomach bug recently landed her in the hospital. She competed in the giant slalom Saturday - finishing 21st - but was clearly winded at the end. She collapsed in the snow after her final run.
Her plan all along was to skip the slalom. The four-time overall champion is conserving energy for next weekend's races in Lake Louise, Alberta, a venue Vonn has typically dominated. She won all three speed races there last season.
Vonn will have some ground to make up with Maze jumping to a big lead in the overall standings. Maze finished runner-up to Vonn last season.
So far this season, no one is skiing any better than Maze, who already has two wins, along with third- and fourth-place finishes.
"I'm feeling fit and strong," Maze said. "Everything is going well for me."
Pat Graham can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pgraham34