Old man winter has been slow to deliver abundant snowfall this winter but the machine made snow was absolutely perfect for racing. The surface was hard and grippy enough to offer every starter a great opportunity to deliver their best performance.
Tina Maze picked up where she left off in Soelden Austria by winning the second GS of the season in style. When asked why she is skiing so much faster this year she said, “my rock video has given me a lot of confidence”. Kathrin Zettel took second place and showed that she is the most well balanced skier on tour. Her technical skills were a great match for the tricky terrain on the strawpile section of the course. Victoria Rebensburg grabbed the final spot on the podium but for American ski racing fans the story was all Mikaela Shiffrin. Brimming with confidence after her third place slalom performance in Levi, Finland, Mikaela came to Aspen with a solid plan. She and Abby Gent were the only U.S. Ski team members to take advantage of a training session on Aspen Mountain before the venue was closed for race preparation. Aspen Mountain is steep, the snow is hard and terrain banks and rolls from start to finish. To add to the challenge the sun drops behind the ridge before the start of the second run so the lights literally go out when the race demands the best skiing. The training session clearly gave Mikaela the home field advantage as she recorded the best GS race of her career earning an eighth place result. NASTAR Ambassador Julia Mancuso had a decent day placing 15th but after placing 3rd here last year she was hoping for more. She will be charging hard this weekend at Lake Louise.
The slalom race provided Shiffrin with an great opportunity to showcase her talents for American ski racing fans and again she did not disappoint changing to a seventh place result. But it was Zettel again that stole the show with her balanced attack, holding off favorite Marlies Schild. Schild was looking for her 34 World Cup slalom win of her career which will be a record when it happens, and it will happen. The top section of her second run left coaches, technicians and fans a gasp as she displayed 30 seconds of the most athletic skiing in recent memory. Unfortunately she was not able to hold the same pace to the finish and she had to watch as her teammate skied a flawless run to capture the win. It was Zettel’s first win in two years and she now sits second behind Maze in the overall World Cup standings.