Hansdotter first at last
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (Reuters) - It took Frida Hansdotter six seasons and eight second places before finally winning a World Cup slalom in Kranjska Gora on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Swede, bronze medalist at the world championships in Schladming last year, took advantage of a gross mistake by arch-favorite Mikaela Shiffrin to make it to the top of the podium at last in the final slalom before the Sochi Olympics.
"Here it is! It's so great to see that it was finally my turn today. After all these second places, I was wondering when it was going to happen," she said.
"I was waiting for the last two seasons and I was hoping not to have to wait for too long. I even told myself and what if it happens at the Games?"
And given her consistency, the skier from Norberg will indeed be among the serious contenders in Sochi with world champion Shiffrin, who finished 7th, and veteran Austrian Marlies Schild, second ahead of her sister Bernadette.
"I was so often behind Shiffrin in the past. For once I took my chance. I tackled the race the right way, I was in the right pace from the start. It's often in tough conditions that I give my best," Hansdotter added.
After cancellation of a giant slalom the previous day, the weather had hardly improved and snow was falling steadily, hampering the skiers' visibility, when Shiffrin went for her fourth victory of the season after setting the fastest morning time.
But the conditions were too harsh and the American nearly lost her balance halfway down, finally losing 0.72 on the Swede.
Hansdotter's maiden victory was not an isolated feat as the Swedes have been doing very well altogether since the beginning of the season, placing three girls in the top six this time.
The arrival two seasons ago of Italian coach Christian Thoma, who formerly looked after Finn Tania Poutiainen and the Italian team, paid off as Sweden also had five skiers in the top 17 at Kranjska Gora.
(Editing by Rex Gowar)
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