Austrian wins closing slalom
Austria’s Nicole Hosp opted not to race in Saturday’s snowy downhill on Aspen Mountain, citing preservation purposes. Good decision, considering Hosp’s dominating performance in Sunday’s closing slalom at this year’s Winternational races.Hosp blew away first-run leader Tanja Poutiainen of Finland with a superb second run of 48.47 seconds, winning by more than a second with a combined two-run time of 1:34.60.
Poutiainen (1:35.79) held on for second to earn her fifth podium in Aspen while Hosp’s teammate Kathrin Zettel – third after the morning run – held the position with a two-run time of 1:35.94. It was the fourth podium in Aspen in the last three years for the 20-year-old Zettel.Hosp’s win was her first this season and moved her into second in the overall standings with 326 points, 23 points behind teammate Marlies Schild. Schild won the two previous slaloms before Sunday, but crashed near the top of her second run.”It was really great for me today,” said Hosp, who chose not to race Saturday after watching teammate Alexandra Meissnitzer crash and injure herself right before Hosp was scheduled to push out of the starting gates. “It was a very tough decision yesterday to not race. Because of the overall, I lose a lot of points. But now today, it was good.”
Sunday’s weather was finally ideal, too, after two days of heavy snow. The trying conditions forced Friday’s downhill to be moved to Saturday, wiping out a scheduled super G. Hopes of an American landing on the podium here were always buried. Four Americans qualified for a second run Sunday, but only one – Resi Stiegler – cracked the top 10. (See related story)Poutiainen said her previous successes in Aspen gave her confidence heading into Sunday’s race, where she led by a mere three hundredths of a second after the first run.
“It’s amazing. I always ski really good here and I like it,” she said. “It’s just so good for me. Maybe it’s the atmosphere. I like it, and it’s really great to ski here.”Poutiainen skied a near-flawless second run, but a few small mistakes on the lower section of the Ruthie’s course left her looking up at Hosp on the podium.”I felt like I was really pushing and trying with all that I had, but maybe there were some little mistakes on these bumps down here,” she said. “After my first run, I told myself and everybody that I can beat that and I can win. I didn’t do it today, but I will do it this season.”
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