The slalom World Cup got off to a cracking start for the HEAD racers. Maria Riesch dominated the first run to lead by over half a second before admitting to relaxing a little too much on the steep of the second run and placing second at the finish. Maria Riesch led four HEAD racers in the top ten in the results with her sister Susanne (4th); Lindsey Vonn (6th) and Sarka Zahrobska (7th).
Levi is the furthest north the World Cup goes and this opening race of the Slalom World Cup had plenty for the ski racing fans to be enthralled by: after a flat top section the racers were taken on a journey down one of the steepest pitches on the Women’s Slalom World Cup Tour before a flat run in to the finish. On the first run, the steep section was where Maria Riesch carved out her lead, extending it to 0.58 seconds ahead of her German teammate Kathrin Duerr with Lindsey Vonn in sixth, Zahrobska in eighth, Lizz Goergl ninth and Susanne Riesch in tenth. Sweden’s Anja Paerson and Switzerland’s Denise Feierabend also made the second run in fifteenth and seventeenth spots as more racers qualified for the second run on HEAD skis than any other brand.
Denise Feierabend was the first of the HEAD racers down for the second run and she took a smooth and comfortable line to secure World Cup Slalom points. Anja Paerson, in her 333rd World Cup start attacked from the off and took a very aggressive line down the steep. By the finish she had done enough to place third with the faster racers still to come. Into the top ten to go and Susanne Riesch demonstrated why so many people feel she is a racer to watch. Susanne pushed the boundaries and extended the lead at the top to almost half a second by the finish. Could she hold on? While Lizz Goergl could not match the German’s pace, Sarka Zahrobska had a great top yet could not match Riesch down the steep and had to be content with second at the bottom.
With six to go it was ready made for a Lindsey Vonn master class. The top section was Vonn at her supreme best as she set about climbing the leaderboard. A mistake saw her slide onto her inside ski and head towards the outside gate costing valuable time but the countless hours of training saw her recover and get back in the course: "I've never made a recovery move like I made today and that is directly attributed to the fitness training that I did this summer and the different exercises I've been doing. Just my overall agility is better and I'm happy I was able to stick with it and get some important points toward the overall."
Austrian Marlies Schild lead at the bottom with just Maria Riesch to go. It was all looking good until the steep section where Riesch admitted to disappointingly “not letting her skis run.” Second place was the result for a slightly disappointed Maria Riesch. With nine races to go in the Slalom World Cup there is plenty of opportunity to carve out more wins this season.
Results for HEAD racers:
2 Maria Riesch (GER)
4 Susanne Riesch (GER)
6 Lindsey Vonn (USA)
7 Sarka Zahrobska (CZE)
13 Anja Paerson (SWE)
15 Lizz Goergl (AUT)
18 Denise Feierabend (SUI)