Marlies Schild wins women's slalom

Updated: February 19, 2011, 11:32 AM ET
Associated Press

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- Marlies Schild led Austria to a 1-2 finish in the women's slalom at the world championships Saturday, living up to expectations by winning her first major title.

Schild led after the first run and overcame some shaky moments in the second to become the first Austrian to win the women's slalom since Karin Buder in 1993.

"I can't believe it. I tried not to think that I was racing for gold," said Schild, who posted a two-run time of 1 minute, 45.79 seconds. "The second run was hell. it was tough to ski, I made many mistakes. I just told myself: 'Fight, fight, fight.' "

"I was warned about the hole [in the course]. I expected it later, but I saw it in time and negotiated it well."

Kathrin Zettel was 0.34 seconds behind and Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden earned bronze, 0.65 seconds back.

Resi Stiegler was the top U.S. finisher in 19th, repeating the result she had two years ago at the worlds in Val d'Isere, France.

"As hard as I am on myself I have to be really happy," said Stiegler, who has struggled since breaking her leg in 2007. "My goal wasn't to make world championships, it was just to finish the season. My race before this, in Zwiesel, I was top-15 in the first run so I feel like those were accomplishments that I didn't expect."

In the 13 World Cup slaloms since November 2009, Schild has won all eight in which she completed both runs. She has won five of seven slaloms this season.

She was distracted earlier this week by the knee injury that ended the season of her boyfriend and Austrian teammate, Benjamin Raich.

"I hope he'll feel better now," Schild said.

Schild took the silver medal at last year's Olympics behind Maria Riesch of Germany. Riesch, the defending champion, settled for fourth.

"I didn't a win a title here but with two bronze medals I am not empty-handed either," said Riesch, who struggled with flu the first week of the championships.

"I was hoping that I could have a good final race, but to say I was expecting gold would be an overstatement. I've only won one slalom this season."

Zettel and Maria Pietilae-Holmner both moved up one place from the first run. Riesch did as well, but couldn't overcome a big gap to snatch a medal before her home fans.

"A medal was my goal and I have to get hold of myself so I can stop crying," Zettel said. "I was really tense and that's why it was so hard, I had to pull myself together at the start. The longer the season, the better I get."

Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, who was second after the first run, fell into a tie for sixth.

Tina Maze of Slovenia, the giant slalom champion, finished fifth, ahead of Manuela Moelgg of Italy and Poutiainen.

Schild's victory meant that Austria completed the women's schedule at the two-week championships by winning three of four events.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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