The planet’s top female technical skiers put on a show Sunday on Aspen Mountain, with two Austrians taking the top spots on the podium and two skiers finishing in the top three for the second time of the weekend.
Seventeen-year-old American sensation Mikaela Shiffrin, who started 21st out of 30 racers in the second and final run, fired up the crowd by posting a time that was a half-second faster than any of the previous finishes. But with the World Cup format seeing the most successful first-run racers going last, there were still nine women to go who posted faster first-run times than the Vail Valley skier.
The home stretch of the race provided plenty of thrills, with Shiffrin hanging on to first place until German Lena Duerr’s run four starts later. At one point, there were three skiers leading the pack within six-hundredths of a second of each other. Shiffrin was eventually pushed off the podium and ended the afternoon in seventh place, besting her eighth-place finish in last year’s Aspen slalom. It was the sixth overall World Cup top 10 for the young racer.
Kathrin Zettel, 26, of Austria, raced last, and posted the top combined first run and second run time of 1:42.46. The win marked the eighth time she has made a podium in Aspen, including her second-place finish in Saturday’s giant slalom.
Zettel said she was surprised at her result when crossing the finish line on her second run. With the course in the afternoon shadows, she said the technical Aspen Mountain hill was even more difficult.
In second place was Marlies Schild, 31, also of Austria, with a combined time of 1:43.13. Schild won the slalom here last year, and has been on the podium in Aspen six times going back to 2002.
Schild said she skied “safe” during her first run.
“In the second run, I really tried to attack,” she said. “Overall it’s a very good result.”
Saturday’s giant slalom winner Maze, 29, of Slovenia, came in third place with a combined time of 1:44.27.
The last double podium winner in Aspen was Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, who accomplished the feat in 2009.
No other American racers qualified for a second run. Sixty-three started the first run, and the top 30 racers advance.
Zettel said Aspen is one of her favorite World Cup stops.
“Aspen is always nice, I love this little city — the people here, the slopes,” she said.
The racers said it’s not all business when they are in town.
“I think every racer is going to Boogie’s,” said Schild, referencing the clothing store in downtown known for its selection of jeans.