Marie-Michèle Gagnon just misses slalom podium
Canadian Phelan secures Sochi qualifier
Marie-Michèle Gagnon came close to securing her second career World Cup podium finish but ended up fourth in Sunday’s women's slalom event in Lienz, Austria.
Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que., put together two strong runs to clock in a time of one minute, 56.64.
She finishes 2013 with another top-5 result to make it six top-10 finishes in the first 11 races of the 2013-14 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season.
Gagnon's teammate Brittany Phelan punched her ticket to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games by finishing 11th in 1:58.08.
“As much as it would have been nice to be on the podium I’m still happy with fourth,” said Gagnon, who has been racing slalom, giant slalom and super-G this year.
“By the end of the second run my legs were shot. I’m doing all the disciplines and I think it’s finally catching up to me. I’m going to take a little break and then get back to business.”
Gagnon, who was disappointed with her 20th-place finish in Saturday’s giant slalom, was ninth after a solid first run on Sunday.
“I skied well but once I got to the bottom I realized I could have attacked more. At the same time, after Saturday’s semi-disaster I just wanted to finish,” said Gagnon, who had a two-run combined time of one minute, 56.54 seconds. “Second run I knew I could charge a little more and it was great until the last pitch and then I had no more legs left.”
Schild makes history
Overcoming several injury-plagued seasons, Marlies Schild of Austria finally set the best mark for most World Cup slalom victories by winning her 35th race to overtake Switzerland's Vreni Schneider on top of the all-time list.
The 32-year-old Schild is a four-time World Cup slalom champion, but she missed a host of races after breaking a leg in 2008 and then tore ligaments last year. That meant she was stuck on 33 slalom wins for close to two years until winning in Courchevel, France, this month.
Schild got her record-setting win in impressive style. Lying 0.69 seconds behind in sixth after the opening leg, she used a blistering second run to finish in 1:55.63 seconds and beat American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin, who led the competition after the first run. Shiffrin finished 0.41 behind.
Olympic slalom champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany was third, 0.63 behind Schild.
"My 34th win was a weight off my shoulders," Schild said. "Suddenly everything got easier in training though racing is still something different."
The victory was Schild's 54th career podium in slalom. She is now tied with fellow Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell (downhill) for the second most podiums in one discipline. Only another Austrian skier, Renate Goetschl, has more, with 59 top-three finishes in downhill.
With files from The Associated Press