Alpine Skiing: Velez-Zuzulová Wins Slalom Under Lights In Flachau

The Women’s Alpine Skiing World Cup continues this week in Flachau, Austria. First of the week’s three races was a night slalom on Tuesday.

The first run took place in snowfall on a soft course. The conditions favored those with small bib numbers. The first skier on the course, Maria Pietilä-Holmner of Sweden, couldn’t make the most of her start number; her run was eventually only 18th-quickest of the first run.

However, the following four starters formed the top four of the first run. Slovakia’s Veronika Velez-Zuzulová (bib No. 3) set the quickest time of the first run, beating the time of Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener (bib No. 2) by 0.54 seconds.

Czech Republic’s Šárka Strachová (bib No. 4) finished the first run in third place, 0.84 seconds from lead, and Norway’s Nina Løseth (bib No. 5) in fourth place, 1.08 seconds from lead.

Starting with the bib No. 7, the slalom World Cup leader Frida Hansdotter of Sweden lost 1.32 seconds and couldn’t break into the top four. She finished the first run in sixth place as her countrywoman Anna Swenn-Larsson (bib No. 11) went into fifth place, 1.23 seconds from lead.

The snowfall stopped before the second run and the course held better for the 30 skiers qualified for the second run.

Finishing the first run 29th and barely qualifying for the second run, Switzerland's Charlotte Chable set the fourth-quickest second run and leaped into 16th place in the final results.

Fourth in the slalom World Cup standings before Flachau, Slovakia's Petra Vlhová was only 11th-quickest on the first run. She managed to improve her position by setting the quickest time of the second run.

Sixth place after the first run, Frida Hansdotter was the first skier to beat Vlhová on the second run. Anna Swenn-Larson, fifth in the first run, was unable to retain her lead to Hansdotter but went into third place, also behind Vlhová. Swenn-Larson was the last skier whom Vlhová was able to overtake on the second run, eventually finishing in sixth place with Swenn-Larsson in seventh place.

Nina Løseth, fourth in the first run, was also unable to retain her lead over Hansdotter but went into second place. Third after the first run, Šárka Strachová set the second-quickest second run and claimed the lead from Hansdotter by 0.74 seconds.

Strachová's great run was too much for the first run's second place finisher Wendy Holdener. Holdener couldn't stay ahead of Strachová but lost also to Hansdotter and went into third place.

Veronika Velez-Zuzulová had a comfortable lead of 0.84 seconds to Strachová before the second run. Although she wasn't as quick as Strachová on the second run, she was able to score her third career World Cup win by 0.31 seconds. With the win, Velez-Zuzulová earned 69,000 euros, the biggest prize money on the women's World Cup tour.

The top three of the slalom World Cup remains the same after the first Flachau race, however, the gap has been reduced. Frida Hansdotter leads the standings but the second-placed Šárka Strachová reduced her lead by 20 points to 74 points, and the third-placed Veronika Velez-Zuzulová reduced Hansdotter's lead by 40 points to 105 points.

Women’s World Cup continues in Flachau with a slalom on Friday and a giant slalom on Sunday.