Pietilä-Holmner makes history in Åre
Åre, SWEDEN – On day two of racing in Are and it was the ladies’ turn to rip some tight turns between slalom gates and one lady executed the task better than anyone else. Maria Pietilä-Holmner whose last slalom victory dates back to Aspen 2010 put together two strong runs and claimed the first win of a Swede in a ladies' Slalom in Sweden. The 28-year-old tech specialist finished her race with the total time of 1:46:65 and beat Friday’s giant slalom winner Tina Maze by a mere 0.06 seconds. To make things even sweeter for the host nation, Frida Hansdotter rounded up the podium by holding on to her third position from the first run and finishing 0.32 seconds behind her teammate.
“It’s amazing and this means so much to me,” Pietilä-Holmner said while struggling to hold back tears of happiness. “I have proven to myself I could be the best again. I felt confident up at the start and I promised myself to try and take a chance. I was trying to enjoy myself today and it’s certainly a good sign for me to know what I’m doing and what I’m working on are the right things,” Pietilä-Holmner continued.
There is hardly a better picture to come out from the first races held in Are after the announcement of theit hosting of the 2019 World Ski Championships than that of two Swedish skiers sharing the podium.
“We have a strong team in both SL and GS so watch out for Sweden in Are 2019,” Pietilä-Holmner said when asked if today was a first step towards dominating the next big event at home.
Maze had been complaining about jet-leg struggles but the biorhythm troubles didn’t seem to affect the Slovenian’s skiing much as she will be leaving Are with a victory and a second place.
“It has been a great weekend, I’m really tired but we have done a great job. I did wish for some quicker legs in today’s second run so I could push a bit harder, like I did in the giant slalom but it didn’t really work out that way. I think I did a good, the Swedish girls were at home here and they went all in. The course was very nice, it flowed well and had a good rhythm and you could really enjoy skiing it,” Maze said.
Frida Hansdotter has finished second in each of the last three Slalom World Cup races, dating back to last season's race in Lenzerheide. She entered today’s slalom wearing the red bib given to the leader in the discipline and she managed to keep her lead in the rankings and is now sitting 11 points ahead of Maze.
“For sure I would like to keep it for as long as I can, possibly until the Finals in Meribel but there are a lot of good girls trying to take it away from me,” Hansdotter said.
“It’s nice to be at home, to ski in front of a Swedish crowd and to cross the finish line hearing them shout in excitement,” she said.
Before the race, all eyes were on Mikaela Shiffrin who won her first World Cup race at the Swedish venue in 2012 only to come back the year after and win it again but the young American didn’t manage to make it a hat-trick in Are and despite two solid runs she missed the podium by a mere 0.02 seconds.
“I did some good skiing and I did some skiing which was too slow and I was holding back which I’m trying not to do. But it’s a learning experience and I’m much happier being 4th, 0.02 seconds back than to be 11th,” she said after the race.
The action in Are continues with the men’s slalom tomorrow before the Tour switches back into speed mode with the ladies’ races in Val d’Isere (FRA) and men’s races in Val Gardena (ITA), the latter still pending the official confirmation which should come before noon on Sunday.