Hansdotter named Snow Space Princess at Flachau slalom with crowded podium
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup 2016 slalom title winner Frida Hansdotter started the night slalom in Flachau, Austria, with the same lucky number as she had when she last won the Snow Space Princess race in 2015 and also in her last World Cup victory in Lienz: bib 6. The Swede laid down a head-turning first run that shocked those in attendance if only for the fact that she just claimed her first podium of the season two days earlier after an otherwise up-and-down winter.
“No, actually [I didn’t know it was] that fast, but for sure I felt I had a good run. But I got a little bit scared when in the banana [delay gate] because I hooked a little bit the skis. I was like ‘Oh no!’ I didn’t get that speed over the last roller. But it was really good, so I’m satisfied,” Hansdotter said after finishing the turny first-run course set with a nearly one-second advantage over Wendy Holdener. “Actually, I’m better when it’s a little bit straighter because I get more speed in, but I for sure saw it in inspection that you really need to work it every gate. So that was my only goal, so maybe that’s the secret.”
Attacking Viking Nina Loeseth sat third after the first run at 1.08 seconds off Hansdotter. Despite not making any major mistakes, Mikaela Shiffrin was 1.38 seconds back in fifth, which she said was the result of turning too much in the first run.
“I really overskied it. Just I went way too far. I mean my coach set first run and I thought he set a spectacular course. It looked just so fun to ski, and I got a little too excited about turning and I just kept going. I just kept turning. When I got to the finish and I felt my legs, they were really tired and that’s never a good sign. It means that you’re not being efficient, so that was sort of part of the issue,” Shiffrin said.
In the second run, Shiffrin charged hard to make up a fair chunk of the deficit, but she ultimately finished third for the night tied with Holdener, who had an impressive run, at 0.78 seconds from the lead. Loeseth also took her best shot at Hansdotter, but nobody could pass the Swede who was simply on point all night long. Hansdotter took the win 0.58 seconds ahead of the Norwegian in second.
“It’s really exciting because a lot of girls can stand on the podium and it makes it hard for us because you have to push and go to see the green light in the finish,” said Holdener, who has now collected six podiums this season in slalom but has yet to win. “I hope you will [see my best skiing] because I have a little better skiing in my bag, so hopefully I can show it.”
Shiffrin, meanwhile, was pleased with her effort to push for the podium and also congratulated the winner on the night.
“It felt a lot better the second run. For sure, I was disappointed with my first run, but to be honest, I try to learn from it. I really, really enjoyed watching Frida ski today. It was incredible and it looked like she had fun, and I’m really happy for her.”
Loeseth collected her second podium of the season and first in slalom for the year.
“I kind of thought, ‘It’s all or nothing. It’s kill or be killed here,’ because it was a pretty easy course, and I felt pretty strong. I didn’t have any big mistakes. But I watched Zuzu on top from the start up there, and I was just thinking ‘Oh my god.’ So it was pretty intimidating. The strong girls were starting behind me or before me in the second run, so that’s why I probably was super excited when I saw that green light,” said Loeseth. “I feel it’s kind of been a build up in slalom because it’s been pretty stable the whole season. And then after Maribor, I was a bit like ‘OK, it’s time to go now, to push a little harder.’ My GS has been a little difficult lately, but I’m going to find it pretty soon, just in time for Kronplatz and St. Mortiz. It’s good, it feels really good to be on the podium.”
But the true star of the night, all agreed, was Hansdotter who built on her Maribor podium and turned in a lights-out performance at Flachau.
“It’s the night atmosphere. I think night slalom is so fun. And the crowd, you can see it from the start. It’s so much fun for racing,” she said. “Actually, I had number six when I was young playing football, so it’s been following me my whole life and also Lienz I had number six when I won, so six is my lucky number.”
As for what’s suddenly started working for her again in slalom, she admitted, “I can be more relaxed and now I know I’m skiing fast, so it’s just go with the flow.”
With 175,000 EUR up for grabs in prize money divided among the top 30 finishers, Flachau remains the highest paying race on the ladies’ World Cup circuit again this season, to the delight of the podium and other second-run finishers.
The World Cup ladies’ tour moves on to nearby Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, for downhill and alpine combined races this coming weekend.
Full results from tonight’s race are available here.