New Zealand’s Claudia Riegler Wins World Cup Slalom
SERRE CHEVALIER, France (AP) _ The Austrian team might want to think about getting Claudia Riegler back.
The 19-year-old New Zealander, a former Austrian skier, won her first women’s World Cup slalom on Sunday in only her second year on the circuit.
Third after the first run, Riegler stormed down the Olympique Luc Alphand course in the second run to finish first with a two-run combined time of 1 minute 31.27 seconds.
Hers was New Zealand’s second World Cup win ever. Annelise Coberger won a World Cup slalom in 1992.
Riegler left the Austrian team when then-coach Herwig Demschar, now head coach of the American women’s team, demanded that Austrian skiers practice all four disciplines.
Her mother being a New Zealander, Riegler was able to obtain a Kiwi passport and race for the South Pacific country.
``I knew the day I got start No. 8 I would win,″ said Riegler, former junior Austrian slalom champion.
``Now I race for New Zealand, I feel Kiwi and that’s the way things are. For training reasons, I might consider going back to Austria, but I’m not sure,″ she said.
Riegler was followed by Switzerland’s Karin Roten, who offered herself a nice birthday present with a second place finish.
Leading after the first leg, Roten, who turned 20 Saturday, finished second with an aggregate time of 1:31.56.
``I knew I had to be careful of Claudia. I knew she’d run well. It’s not easy to win or get a podium, so I’m happy with my second place, ″ she said.
Sweden’s Pernilla Wiberg, 12th after the first leg, skied a brilliant second run, vaulting her onto the podium in third, with a time of 1:31.79.
``I went out so often recently in the slalom that I wasn’t so aggressive in the first run. But in the second I went all out,″ Wiberg said.
``It feels good to be on the podium with new, up-and-coming girls after Vreni,″ she continued, referring to Vreni Schneider, long-time Swiss slalom queen who retired at the end of last season.
``I’m sure there will be a lot more victories for Riegler,″ she said. Her third-place showing Sunday was the 25-year-old Wiberg’s fourth time on the slalom podium this season.
Slovenia’s Natasa Bokal finished fourth in 1:31.99, followed by Patricia Chauvet of France in 1:32.18.
Austria’s Anita Wachter finished sixth in 1:32.47, solidifying her lead atop overall World Cup standings with 875 points.
Germany’s Martina Ertl, second in the overall World Cup standings with 794 points and placing second in Sunday’s first leg, failed to complete the second run, going off course three gates before the finish line.
Katja Seizinger of Germany is third overall with 782 points.
Austria’s Elfi Eder, winner of three slaloms this season, finished a disappointing 11th in 1:33.57, but continues to sit comfortably atop the overall slalom standings with 580 points.
With only one more slalom race scheduled for the season, Eder has already clinched the slalom title.