Schild wins World Cup slalom; US teen Shiffrin 3rd

LIENZ, Austria (AP) — Marlies Schild of Austria won her fourth straight World Cup slalom race, while 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States finished third to become the youngest female racer on a World Cup slalom podium in 33 years.

Schild had two flawless runs to finish in a combined 1 minute, 51.42 seconds and beat Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.79 seconds.

Shiffrin started her eighth World Cup event as No. 40, ended the opening run in 12th position before posting the fastest time in the final run. She finished 1.30 behind Schild, who lost 0.24 to Shiffrin in the final run.

Shiffrin, who became the youngest American national slalom champion last spring, impressed with an all-attacking and error-free second run that included turns extremely close to the gates.

"I have been working so hard for this moment," said Shiffrin, who finished eighth in slalom last month in Aspen, Colo. "Schild, Zettel, Hosp, Vonn; I have been watching all these top girls for the past 10 years. And now I am here myself, it really feels crazy."

While Shiffrin stepped onto the podium for the first time, the 30-year-old Schild equaled Vreni Schneider's record with her 47th World Cup slalom podium.

Shiffrin said she was impressed by meeting Schild, one of her idols.

"It's the first time I've been talking to Marlies in person," Shiffrin said. "I couldn't believe she was congratulating me after the race. What a moment!"

Schild was just as excited by the teenager's performance.

"Of course I saw her in Aspen, she's a real talent," Schild said. "I see a lot of myself in the way she is skiing. She has all what it takes to become a great champion in the near future."

U.S. teammate Lindsey Vonn was 18th and retained the lead in the overall standings. The three-time champion has 612 points, followed by Schild with 440 and Austria's Anna Fenninger, who usually skips slalom, with 368.

Defending overall champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany had costly mistakes in the steep final part of both her runs and finished ninth, 1.99 behind Schild. In the overall standings, Hoefl-Riesch is fifth with 326 points.

After a solid first run, Vonn lost speed and time going into the final section of her second run, finishing 3.01 off the lead.

Vonn hasn't been on a slalom podium for more than two years.

"It's getting closer (to the podium)," she said. "I am hoping to get back in the (starting) top 15 and that will help a lot."

Vonn said she has gained confidence in the technical events again this season, helped by her victory in the giant slalom in October in Soelden, Austria.

"I know I have the speed, it's a matter of putting two runs together," she said. "I just feel comfortable in any race right now. Every time I am in the starting gate, I am going to try to win. I am just having fun."

U.S. teammate Julia Mancuso skied out just a few seconds after the start of her first run when her right ski hit a gate and she lost balance.

Another slalom event is scheduled Tuesday in Zagreb, Croatia.