COURCHEVEL, France (Reuters) - It took her almost two years but Austrian Marlies Schild finally equaled Vreni Schneider’s record of 34 World Cup slalom victories on Tuesday.
The former world champion, without a slalom win since February 2012, had seen her quest hampered by a knee injury sustained in Sweden last December.
Schild’s wait ended in Courchevel with a 36th World Cup triumph - she also won a giant slalom and a combined - in an overall time of one minute 45.17 seconds.
Her younger sister Bernadette was also on the podium, finishing third behind Swede Frida Hansdotter who was 0.33 seconds off the pace.
“After all I’ve been through this victory means so much...I knew it would finally come one day,” the 32-year-old Schild told reporters.
“I‘m happy and proud, firstly for being on the podium and secondly for the record.”
Schild said Swiss skier Schneider, who won her 34th and last slalom in 1995, had always been a fan.
“I really want to thank Vreni who has always stood by my side and supported me. She regularly sends me texts,” the Austrian explained.
Schneider was pleased to learn her mark had been equaled by Schild.
“It’s an incredible record and I‘m glad because thanks to Marlies my name was still very much alive on the ski circuit,” she said. “The only use for records is for them to go on to be beaten.”
The Austrian’s victory in the posh village of Courchevel, a favorite ski resort for billionaires, was no surprise as she has a history of doing well in World Cup slaloms there.
”It’s been a long road back,“ said Schild. ”I went through lots of hard times culminating with my injury in Are in December 2012.
“I had 10 operations on both legs and while the right is now OK, the left has scars from the shin to the lower back. Muscles lose their strength.”
Schild’s return to the top of World Cup slalom skiing was all the more difficult as a younger generation had taken the reins while she was recovering.
“It was not simple because I had sunk down the rankings and youngsters like (American) Mikaela Shiffrin had taken my place,” she said.
World champion Shiffrin finished 12th on Tuesday, 2.11 seconds behind the winner.
The first run was marred by a knee injury to giant slalom world champion Tessa Worley, 24, that will keep her out of next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“She received checks in Lyon which revealed a torn ligament in the right knee and small lesion of the lateral meniscus,” said French team spokesman Maurice Adrait.
Worley was on the side of the piste for 20 minutes before she was carried away on a stretcher and taken to hospital in Lyon.
World downhill champion Marion Rolland of France will also miss the Olympics after suffering the same injury in training.
Editing by Tony Jimenez