Fenninger wins giant slalom and takes overall lead
Are, Sweden – The ladies' World Cup tour stopped in the Scandinavian ski resort for the second time of the winter. Last December, the Courchevel races were relocated to Are due to the lack of snow in the Alps.
Three months later, the racers battled it up for top honours on Friday in the 6th giant slalom race of the season. Austria's Anna Fenninger continued her fine run of form by winning her fifth World Cup race of the season, the third in giant slalom. In the lead after the first leg, the giant slalom world champion put in a solid second run under the floodlights to maintain the advantage. She clocked a combined time of 2:24.20 to edge out Nadia Fanchini at the top of the timesheets. The Italian finished 0.71 seconds behind, while Eva-Maria Brem rounded out the podium, 1.07 seconds back.
“I am living a dream,” Fenninger said at the press conference. “From the very beginning of the season with a great victory in Sölden until now, it just has been amazing. I am very happy I can show my best skiing here again.”
Fenninger already won both giant slalom races in Åre in March 2014 and becomes the first woman to win at least three in the Swedish resort.
“I love Åre," Fenninger added. “Earning another victory here is really cool. The top part of the course is always tough. I usually struggle to find the right tempo up there. I had this problem last year as well.”
In the tense battle for the overall title, the 25-year-old overtook Tina Maze, who didn't manage to find her groove and had to be content with 20th place, scoring only 11 points. Fenninger walked away with a 45 point lead before Saturday's slalom.
“I feel confident in my skiing now. But for the big globe I have to wait for Tina to make mistakes I think. Because she is so strong and she can win in slalom also and I am not going to race tomorrow. I try to save my energy in order to maybe win other races this season and put some pressure on Tina. I think it will be tight until the end and I don't know if I can make it or not,” concluded Fenninger.
Nadia Fanchini, who was fifth after the first run, raced to her first podium ever in giant slalom.
“The race went really well,” explained Fanchini. “I knew it wasn’t impossible to make it to the top-3 because I was close to the best racers in the first run. I gave it my all and I am so glad it worked out.”
The 28-year-old Italian's last World Cup podium dated back to Haus im Ennstal (AUT) in January 2010. Fanchini's career has been jeopardized by multiple knee injuries.
“I am really happy to be back on the podium after the severe knee injury I sustained in 2010,” she added. “It took me almost two years to recover from this ACL injury.”
With her third podium of the campaign, Eva-Maria Brem keeps a chance to claim the giant slalom title, as she is 86 points behind Fenninger with one giant slalom race remaining.
"I have had a great start to the season, but then things didn't really go the way I wanted," said Brem. "I worked and worked and to be back on the podium today feels good. To have the chance to fight for this globe until the very end is nice. You never know what can happen. I am looking forward to the finals."
The last slalom race of the season before the World Cup finals in Méribel (FRA) is scheduled to start on Saturday at 10:30 & 13:30 CET!
Here are the complete results.