SOLDEU-GRANDVALIRA, Andorra — Marlies Schild, of Austria, won her sixth World Cup slalom of the season Saturday after overall leader Lindsey Vonn and defending champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch crashed out in the opening run on the windy Pyrenees course.
Schild blazed through the 59 gates to clock a best time of 1 minute, 39.44 seconds. She’s one victory shy of 34 slalom wins held by Swiss great Vreni Schneider.
Vonn started the first run well, but fell after taking a gate wide and slid down the center of the hill.
“It was a surprise not to finish, because the hill is perfect,” Vonn told Andorran television RTVA. “So I am disappointed not to have had a good result.”
Frida Hansdotter, of Sweden, trailed Schild by 0.60 seconds, while Kathrin Zettel, of Austria, was 0.86 seconds back in third.
Hoefl-Riesch, the Olympic slalom gold medalist, failed to finish her second consecutive slalom when she collided with a flag and spun off the course. The German skier also went off the course in January’s slalom held in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Vonn hasn’t won a slalom since 2009, dominating the World Cup downhill instead.
Despite missing the chance for Vonn to add to her point total, the three-time overall champion still holds a healthy lead with 1,350 points, 458 more than her nearest rival Tina Maze. The Slovenian finished the race in 11th place, more than two seconds back.
The 30-year-old Schild won her sixth race in seven slaloms this season. The world slalom champion rallied from her only non-first-place finish of the season to increase her lead to 600 points over Maze’s 361 in the event standings.
“It’s amazing. I have won six races now,” Schild said. “Of course, today was a little different because I wasn’t in the lead after the first run. So it is also good for me to know I can win a race coming from behind.”
MEN’S DOWNHILL: In Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, two weeks ago, Ben Thomsen was in danger of being sent down to skiing’s minor leagues. Now he’s got his first World Cup podium result and full of confidence heading into the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Slicing through the icy technical section, Thomsen turned on the speed on the flatter, lower section of the Rosa Khutor downhill course to finish second, 0.27 seconds behind Swiss winner Beat Feuz.
Last month, Canada speed coach John McBride considered sending Thomsen home to the Nor-Am circuit after a string of less-than-stellar results. But he’s achieved career bests in his past three races, starting with 11th- and fifth-place finishes last weekend in Chamonix, France.
SKICROSS: In Park City, Utah, the Canadians made a last-minute decision to compete in the U.S. Grand Prix and it paid off as Chris Del Bosco and Marielle Thompson swept gold in skicross and teammate Brady Leman grabbed silver.
American Langley McNeal finished second in the women’s race at Park City’s Canyons Resort, gaining redemption after being disqualified for a clothing violation in January at the Winter X Games.
SKI JUMPING: In Willingen, Germany, Norway upset Austria in a World Cup ski jumping team event.
The team of Anders Fannemel, Rune Velta, Vegard Sklett and Anders Bardal secured the victory with 999.2 points.
Austria’s experienced team of Martin Koch, Andreas Kofler, Thomas Morgenstern and Gregor Schlierenzauer finished 22.9 points behind in second. Germany finished third.