Winter sports blog: Marlies Schild dominates at World Cup slalom
Andrew Magee takes a look at all the latest news and views from the snow and ice on the winter sports circuit
Welcome to The Sport Review’s new winter sports blog, featuring all the latest news and views from the snow and ice. We’ll be catching up with the people on the piste as the winter sports circuit gets back under way.
Women’s Skiing – Third time lucky
Marlies Schild won her third straight World Cup slalom race in Flachau, Austria on Tuesday to extend her lead at the top of the slalom standings, almost doubling the points tally of second placed Kathrin Zettel.
The Austrian dominated the race on her home snow, beating Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch into second by 0.46s, and in the process taking her winning tally to 32 World Cup races, including 30 slaloms. She is just four wins away from Vreni Schneider’s slalom record.
After the race the 30-year-old expressed her joy at winning in front of a home crowd.
She said: “I’m from Salzburg so this is a special race for me and I was perhaps a little more tense than usual, especially after winning here two years ago and losing last year. It’s a great relief and a great joy to win in Austria, especially in front of such a crowd.”
Schild’s victory sees her top the slalom standings on 300 points while Zettel has to settle for second with 155 points. She’s also now climbed into second place in the overall standings behind USA’s Lindsey Vonn.
Men’s Skiing – Blistering Blardone
Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone was inspired on home snow to win the Alta Badia giant slalom for the third time on Sunday.
The 32-year-old, whose last World Cup victory came on the same course two years ago, beat Austria’s Hannes Rechelt into second by 0.35s, with fellow Austrian Philipp Shoerghofer in third.
The Austrian team have not won the Alta Badia classic in 14 years, and were denied once more by Blardone, who is just one win behind Italian legend Alberto Tomba’s record of four wins at the Dolomites resort.
Blardone said: “It’s all the more important as it’s entirely unexpected. I really had to fight hard for this.”
Away from the World Cup tour, Britain’s TJ Baldwin placed 4th in the Super G at the North American Cup in Nakiska, Canada in his best ever international performance.
The result took the 21-year-old to first in the British Super G rankings and 171st in the world, and the Norfolk skier is hoping to push on into the top 100.
He told told BBC Radio Norfolk: “It was a great result. It came as a bit of a shock to be honest.
“If I was to score another result like that I’d rise maybe 100 and then I’d nearly be in the top 100 in the world which would be good.”
Baldwin will be back at the World Cup in Italian resort Val Gardena, where he hopes to get a result and work on improving his downhill ranking.
Snowboarding – Have yourself a merry SBXmas
Britain’s Zoe Gillings claimed 10th at the opening SBX World Cup event in Telluride, Colorado on Saturday where USA’s Lindsey Jacobellis claimed victory.
Gillings caught an edge in the semi-finals to crash out but the 26-year-old Isle of Man native is confident she can reach the podium at the next race in Badgastein, Austria in January.
She said: “I’m obviously disappointed that I didn’t bring home a medal but I had a solid competition.
“The training I have been doing over the summer has paid off and I know I just made a silly mistake in the semi-final race.”
The SBX World Cup has seen some interesting changes this year, with 24 boarders now qualifying for the heats, rather than 16. For fans of snow-bound pile ups, this means that each heat now has six boarders racing rather than four, so a once mental sport now has some added mental.
Curling – Hammer Time
Scotland’s women’s curling team claimed gold with a comfortable 8-2 victory over Sweden at the European Championships in Moscow last week.
Despite suffering a heavy 12-2 defeat to Denmark in their second round robin match, the team bounced back with victory over the Swedes, who had been unbeaten in the tournament.
Scotland required only eight ends to finish the match and claim revenge over the team they lost to last year, leaving skip Eve Muirhead delighted to claim the gold.
She said: “It’s fantastic. It’s been one of the medals I’ve wanted. Sweden had such a great week, but we just piled on the pressure from the start and we got a few mistakes out of the skip, and as soon as they made any mistakes, we just pounced”
“We didn’t start the week well, but we did the right thing. Every game we got better and better and started going up the way, so I think we peaked at the right time.”
Winter Youth Olympic Games – Great Brits
Team GB’s next generation of winter warriors have been selected for the first ever winter Youth Olympic Games in Austria.
A squad of 23 athletes will compete alongside over 1,000 other young sports stars from across the globe as the world of winter sport begins to prepare for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
The delegation will be led by Chef de Mission Sir Clive Woodward, previously one of five deputy chefs for Team GB at the Vancouver Olympics, and includes athletes from nine disciplines.
Sir Clive said: “I am hugely excited to be leading a team of 23 very talented and ambitious young winter athletes to the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck. I have no doubt that Team GB’s athletes will compete with great skill and pride to produce some thrilling performances.
“The experience the young athletes will gain in Innsbruck goes well beyond the sporting competition. They will have a very special opportunity to experience the Olympic atmosphere of living in an athletes’ village, competing in a multi-sport environment and participating in the culture and education programmes organised by the International Olympic Committee.”
The full Team GB delegation: Paul Henderson and Rachelle Rogers (Alpine Skiing); Calum Irvine (Biathlon); Oliver Biddulph, James Lelliot, Mic McNeil, Jazmin Sawyers, Kirsten Emery and Frances Slater (Bobsleigh); Sarah Hale and Scott Dixon (Cross Country Skiing); Duncan Menzies, Angharad Ward, Thomas Muirhead and Rachel Hannen (Curling); Edward Carstairs and Millie Paterson (Figure Skating); Katie Summerhayes (Freestyle Skiing); Katherine Gale and Lewis Hook (Ice Hockey); Jack Burrows and Aydin Djemal (Short Track Speed Skating).
And finally: Our winter wonder fact of the week
Apologies that this is last year’s wish list, but here are some of the mountain men and women of the alpine World Cup tour asking Santa for their wishes to come true. From puppies to cars, food to family, these are the gifts in demand at this time of year. Julia Mancuso doesn’t shy away from her request and Dider Cuche isn’t going to suffer any nonsense from Santa. He wants presents, plain and simple. Enjoy.
Merry Christmas to all of you from The Sport Review Snowblog and come back next year for plenty of winter sports action.