|REITERALM, Austria (Nov. 12) - Growing up in Jackson Hole, WY, U.S. Ski Team racer Resi Stiegler is used to huge dumps of snow. But the storm, which rolled into this alpine village during the week, helped energize Stiegler to equal the best result of her World Cup career despite a blizzard.|
Stiegler, who turns 22 on Wednesday, finished fourth Saturday in the opening slalom of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season, just .11 seconds from her first podium. She left no doubt the storm, which dropped a couple of meters of snow, may have troubled other racers but was just what she needed to ski her best.
"I was so excited! Growing up in Jackson Hole - and all the snow we get, free-skiing for me is the best release," the 2006 Olympian explained. "So, today was good because I could free-ski so much. The snow was so deep and it just reminded me of how much I love to ski, and I just relaxed."
The race was moved from Finland because of poor snow. Ironically, the storm almost forced cancellation because of too much snow.
"It was stressful. You didn't know what to do, and there always are questions on the first race [of a discipline] and you wonder how you are. But then we heard [Friday night] nothing was flying out of Munich, so I figured, 'Well, I'm not getting out of here, anyway.' And with all the new snow it was just great, so I relaxed."
She said, "We had meters and meters and meters of snow. I've never seen so much snow."
In addition, her father - Austrian Olympic champion Pepi Stiegler, gold medalist ahead of Americans Billy Kidd and Jimmie Heuga in the 1964 Olympic slalom - called her Friday night and that chat was soothing, she said.
She drove to the race hill, but the storm - and ski area workers clearing the parking area at the base of the mountain - buried her car. "I could barely find my car, could barely open the doors. It was crazy. The whole thing was snow-blown, totally covered," she laughed.
"I'm kind of sad to leave now because the snow is so good. It's insane," Stiegler said. She will rejoin her teammates during their training at Colorado's Keystone Resort. The next World Cup races are a slalom and giant slalom Nov. 24-25 at Panorama in the Canadian Rockies. The women's World Cup tour returns Dec. 7-9 to Aspen, CO, for the annual Audi Aspen Winternational with a downhill, super G and slalom.