ZAGREB, Croatia – Olympian and U.S. Ski Team veteran Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) finished eighth in Tuesday’s Audi FIS Alpine World Cup night slalom in Zagreb. Austria’s Marlies Schild won the coveted Snow Queen Trophy by .75 seconds.
Streaming of the race is available at www.universalsports.com.
Amidst the fog and icy conditions, 66 women charged out of the start for the first run of the legendary Zagreb night slalom. With big prize money on the line, the women went all out with hopes of clinching the victory, including Schleper who sat in fifth after the first run.
This race marked Schild’s fourth slalom victory of the season and third-in-a-row win. Tuesday’s race was also the third time she has been crowned Snow Queen in Zagreb.
Tuesday’s result puts Schleper back inside the slalom World Cup top 30 as well as a generous prize purse of $3,990 in her pocket. Schild earned $55,873 for the win, with Germany’s Maria Riesch in second with $27,937 and Manuela Moelgg of Italy in third with $13,962.
“Sarah had an incredible first run. She went like crazy and full on attacked that hill. It was very difficult conditions,” said Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser of Schleper’s blistering first run. “The fog was moving in and out, so it was very challenging and she had a fantastic first run. That was really good skiing.”
The plan for run two was the same for Schelper, the lone American to qualify for the second run, pedal to the metal. With visibility difficult, she laid down a solid second run to cross the line eighth.
According to the Associated Press, Schleper said, “I didn’t feel that good coming down [in the second run]. My skis were sliding a little bit. I was actually very surprised to see where I ended up. Maybe if I can clean up a couple of turns, I can be right there with the best girls.”
“Second run her plan was also to really attack and try to get on the podium, but it seemed like in the back of her head there were some thoughts of just finishing the course,” explained Hoedlmoser. “It wasn’t as perfect as the first run but still a very good job in the second run. Eighth is a very good result for her, it is something she can build on. I’m really looking forward to the next slalom because she is going to be flying.”
Unfortunately, falling prisoner to the notorious icy hill, were Schleper’s teammates Olympic gold medalists Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) along with 27 other racers.
“Lindsey wasn’t 100 percent and not on top of her game and on this course you need to be 100 percent to actually perform,” Hoedlmoser said. “With Julia, she had a really good warm up. We were confident in her skiing and just hit a really slick spot in bad body position and that was it.”
Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) has been making a successful World Cup comeback tour and was skiing solid in the first run before having to hike. She finished outside of the top 30, along with teammate Hailey Duke (Boise, ID).
“Resi was doing a really good job. She was skiing really well until she made that big mistake,” said Hoedlmoser. “I’m happy with the speed that she has again and it’s unfortunate that she made that mistake, but otherwise she would have been right in there.”
The women’s World Cup tour will head to Zachensee, Austria Jan. 6-9 for a downhill and super G, followed by another night slalom in Flachau, Austria Jan. 11.
Audi Alpine FIS World Cup
Zagreb, Croatia – Jan. 4, 2011
1. Marlies Schild, Austria, 2:01.80
2. Maria Riesch, Germany, 2:02.55
3. Manuela Moelgg, Italy, 2:02.88
8. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2:04.49
DNQ 1st Run: Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY), Hailey Duke (Boise, ID)
DNF: Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA)