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Monday, November 26, 2012

Svindal goes back-to-back, Zettel stronger than ever

Svindal rules the superg too

That he was the favourite to win, it was rather clear to everybody, but it takes a champion to back-up the expectations of the eve; Aksel Lund Svindal has proven several times in his carreer to be an undoubtfully great champion, but the way he skied today added another proof to his status.
Starting with a low number Ted Ligety surprised the viewrs by skiing effortlessy not only in the very technical passages on the steep part of the slope, but also being better than usual in the very last long flat of the Lake Louise course. Still, he was the 2nd to race down the setting, so none really believed he had a chance for a great placement on the final ranking, but one by one a lot of specialists of the Superg started to finish behind the American "Giantist" and so his run started to look more and more convincing.
Italian Werner Heel, bib number 7, looked very close to oust the American from the temporary leadership as he finished the steep very close to him and started to recover distance by the middle of the final flat, but a little mistake cost him the couple of hundreds that set him right after him. The Italian had to be happy at the end of the race as he eventually finished 5th, his very best result in a long while - Ligety finished 4th!-.
It needed a truly inspired Joaquim Puchner, from Austria, to better the time from Ted and he really had to ski an incredible flat section in order to do so. Another Austrian, Max Franz few runs later had a solid run too, yesterday's 2nd finisher didn't ski as well as in downhill, but still made a very good display of calm after the amazing result from 24 hours earlier finishing 8th.
Right after the colourless run from Innerhofer, French skier Adrien Theaux skied an incredibly solid run throughout all the legs, making a terrific final intermediate to size the lead, just in time to check what Svindal would have done.
All the pressure was on his wide shoulder, but as a Champion he is, the Norge didn't let all this prevent him from skiing his own race: he started good and by exploiting his gliding attitude took a great advantage in the early section already. He then made a terrific line to enter the steep and despite looking rather mechanic on the making went through the big turns in the steep with such a big speed that couldn't but increase his advantage over and over until the very finish when he lost a few decimals because of a little flaw in the flat, but still almost a second faster than everybody else.

Top 4 slalomists from another planet

First run in Aspen, CO, was a little pale, some sort of lazy start for the actual party which took place a few hours after for the 2nd one. After the first half the top 5 skiers came all from the top 8 at start with Zettel leading, but all them were in the space of 80 hundreds. Right after that little group the gaps were fasting growing bigger as the bib's number rose -the only exception being Irene Curtoni, but she sadly fell before the finish-.
In the second run the plot shifted to a more interesting one: first it was Italian Manuela Moelgg trying to add some spices to the race as she scored a very interesting time and started to climb the ranking from the bottom (she eventually finished 18th from 27th). But then it was Zuzulova's turn to show how the 1st run had only been a mistake in the making and she was a much better skier than her first run's placement suggested: from 20th she rose as much as 11th, but her partial time was eventually the 3rd at the end.
When the top 10 were to get down, the local crowd went comlpetely crazy for the run of the local star Mikaela Shiffrin, as the young amarican stopped the Slovakian leadership and started to climb the ranking too as high as 7th by the end.
German Lena Duerr edged the lead, but she didn't last longer on the top of the ranking as her team mate Maria Riesch knew she had to ski a terrific run to make up the gap from the 1st run leader and most of all recover from the GS fail. Riesch started very agressive and immediatly scored a great intermediate, but nonetheless kept pushing hard on the throttle until the very end. It was hard to believe someone could better such a run and a proof to that seemed to be given by Pietilae-Holmner solid, but not good enough run.
Marlies Schild was of another idea though, fire was burning in her eyes as she had her amazing winning streak interrupted in Levi because of a fall and she's been just one win away from all time record of slalom victories in WC. She wanted to show she was still the best and the 3rd place of the first run was too little for her. She started like a fury and in a blink of an eye she was crashing Maria's hopes for the win.
Yesterday's winner and Levi 4th placed Tina Maze knew she could do less to bother such an inspired Schild, but she also knew that every point is precious for the overall cup, so she skied smartly and without mistakes she could secure herself another podium, by finishing between the Austrian and Maria Riesch.
The first run leader, Kathrin Zettel had a lot of pressure to deal with as she hadn't been winning in slalom for a very long time in World Cup and she surely knew it wouldn't need just a solid run to edge the team mate, she needed something exception and so she did: in the first half of the race she had a little mistake,nothing very serious, but it cost her almost all the advantage and on the intermediate she had nothing but few hundreds left. One could think it was over, but she didn't, she knew she could do it and by putting together a stellar final section she gained a gap big enough to stop Schild's assault and win her first race of the season.

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