“You are a dancing queen, young and free, only seventeen” sang the Abba many years ago, but queen tonight was a slalom queen as the 17 years old American Mikaela Shiffrin conquered her 3rd win in a row by capturing the victory in front of the amazing crowd of Flachau.
The first run, any way, had closed under the sign of a rescue for the German team as on the lead there was Maria Riesch, who after the several disappointments of the last events seemed to have found back her security and the time immediately followed. The advantage of the German start was of over half a second on slalom leader Shiffrin and close to the second to Christina Geiger, surprisingly 3rd.
As a confirmation of her great form this season Frida Hansdotter scored a 4th placement, while a good news came to Tanja Poutiainen, 5th after the latest disappointing results. Who surely wasn’t happy with her run was Tina Maze, only 8th, but the Slovene looked pretty tired and somehow worn out and she’s probably not to blame for that, after all she’s racing in all disciplines and with a terrific outcome in each of them since the very first race of the season.
Among the surprises of the first run, surely one was to see Bernadette Schild placing herself as high as 7th and another Austrian Thalmann 13th. While with higher bibs Terwiel from Canada managed to hit her 2nd top 30 finish as with number 45 got to the 21st place, bib 50 Barbara Wirth got 28th and bib 43 Michelle Gisin hit the 29th.
The latter, sister of the excellent speed skier Dominique, was to be the main protagonist of the second run a couple of hours later. Michelle exploited the clean course and attacked from the very beginning the very complicate setting of the second run, managing to tame all the many figures and the waves of the slope. The result was almost a perfect run, whose value was to be proved by the number of girls that one after the other finished behind her and in the end by the fact that hers was the best time.
The raise in the ranking looked unstoppable as when the top 15 were to start, none had finished closer to her than Holdener and Loeseth, both still further than half a second away. The leadership of the young Swiss wasn’t to last much longer though, as former world champion and Czech star Sarka Zahrobska by skiing a very solid performance in that second run, could snatch the lead, even if for few hundreds. After the famous delicate operation she had to undergo last summer, it was such a great joy to see her again smiling in the leader box and finally see her back into top 10 as she finished 8th, right in from of Gisin.
Local favorite Carmen Tahlmann, after the very convincing first run, started the second very aggressive and looked on her way to a great time, but when less of half of the course was missing she knocked into a gate and fell.
A few important runs happened then one after the other, first Swede Swenn-Larsson took advantage of the setting done by her coach and took the lead hitting a very interesting time, which will eventually take her at the feet of the podium as she ended up being 4th. Immediately after, Tina Maze, still looking far from bright as she usually was in slalom earlier in the season, could ski very composed and if she failed to overtake Larsson, she could take her contrail and finished 5th, a placement worth of important points for the Overall WC.
Bernadette Schild, after the great first run, didn’t let that placement scare her and could defend it and improve it little as she finished 6th and best Austrian in the race, as Kirchgasser, after having lost a pole in the early gates, went out.
First Poutiainen and then Hansdotter bettered Larsson’s time, with the former Swede taking a great lead with an outstanding last flat section.
Then, in just a few minutes lapse of time, all the dreams of the German team crashed against a cold reality, in which both Geiger and Riesch fell, giving a great disappointment to the many German fans who came to Austria to cheer for their girls. In the break between the two a true masterpiece was to happen though, as Mikaela Shiffrin, the amazingly talented American, despite a little wary start in which she lost almost all her advantage, shone brighter than the lights of the slope to ski one of the most amazing sections in this season, taking almost a second of advantage over Hansdotter, whose flat already seemed outstanding.
For the American this way came the third win in world cup and her winning streak remains open, while her leadership in the slalom cup looks more and safer.