Flachau, Austria – The world’s best slalom skiers battled it out for top honours under the lights in difficult conditions due to snowfalls and mild temperatures. Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova, who led after the opening run, skied an almost flawless second one for a convincing win in the sixth slalom of the season on Tuesday.
In front of a huge crowd of 13’500 cheering fans, the 31-year-old clocked a combined time of 1:46.58 to edge Sarka Strachova of Czech Republic by 0.31 seconds.
“I had to stay calm and focused before the second run and I managed it, so I am really happy to be on top of the podium tonight, because I had to wait a long time to win again,” Zuzulova told reporters.
It was Zuzulova’s 3rd career World Cup victory, as she won a slalom in Semmering (AUT) in December 2012 and the city event a week later in Munich (GER).
Third after the first run, Strachova posted the second-fastest time of the second run to land her third podium this campaign, the second in a row.
“I am really happy about this second space, even though I could have skied faster,” Strachova said. “I feel really good this season. I’m healthy and the results are going my way.”
It snowed all afternoon and the temperatures were slightly over zero degrees, making it difficult to have regular conditions for all the racers especially in the first run. It got colder as the evening went on and the track held up quite well till the end of the race.
Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, the most consistent slalom skier and winner of last year’s race in Flachau, struggled with the soft snow and rutted track in the first run and had to be content with rank 6. The Swede moved up to third place after an aggressive second leg.
“I am satisfied with my second run,” Hansdotter confessed. “I had a hard time in the first run but for sure you need to be able to ski well in all types of conditions. So I can only blame myself for this. But I am so much better when the snow is harder and you know what you can do and ski the way you want.”
“There is one more race on Friday and I am really looking forward to having another chance and taking revenge,” Hansdotter concluded.
Hansdotter leads the slalom standings with 425 points, while Strachova and Velez Zuzulova sit second and third with respectively 351 and 320 points.
The ladies’ World Cup indeed continues but stays in Flachau for another slalom on Friday and a giant slalom on Sunday.