FLACHAU, Austria Four-time Olympian Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), the only American to qualify for a second run, wheeled off course and did not finish as 15,000 fans blanketed the Hermann Maier slope for Tuesday's night slalom. Germany's Maria Riesch matched Finland's Tanja Poutiainen for the win as the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup produced a rare tie for the second time in four days. Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal and Cyprien Richard of France shared the Adelboden giant slalom victory on Jan. 8.
Fans lined both sides of the slope and stuffed the finish, including legendary ski racer Hermann Maier, to cheer on racer after racer, as they battled their way down a challenging hill. Adding to the difficulty this year were a series of rolls that were created for the race.
"The hill's great they built some artificial rolls in it. It's definitely more challenging then it has been here. Snow conditions were great, slick and everything was good," said Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser. "We were expecting quite a bit out of the girls today and the bottom line is, we just didn't execute."
The USA showed up with its game faces on, but was unable to get the momentum going. Schleper, the only American to qualify for a second run in 28th, went out of the gate charging before going down on her hip and sliding off course.
Riesch, laid down a fast second run, to tie first run leader Poutiainen for the win. France's Natasia Noens finished third for the first World Cup podium of her career.
Schleper joined the list of DNFs from the first run that included Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Hailey Duke (Boise, ID). The U.S. Ski Team's Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) and Laurenne Ross (Klamath Falls, OR) did not qualify for a second run.
"Everybody was as best prepared as everyone could have been," said Hoedlmoser. "But things just didn’t come together today."
The next stop on the World Cup tour is Maribor, Slovenia Jan. 15-16, where the women will race a slalom and giant slalom.
OFFICIAL RESULTS Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Flachau, Austria – Jan. 11, 2011 Slalom
1. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1:42.52 1. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland, 1:42.52 3. Nastasia Noens, France, 1:43.04 - DNQ for second run: Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY), Laurenne Ross (Klamath Falls, OR) DNF: Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), Hailey Duke (Boise, ID), Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO)