COURCHEVEL, FRANCE – Marlies Schild joked that her younger sister wouldn’t have received any Christmas presents if she had stopped her from tying the record for World Cup slalom wins on Tuesday.
Marlies overcame Bernadette Schild’s leading time from the first run to win her 34th slalom and match the record of Vreni Schneider from 1986-95.
The 2011 slalom world champion was third after the first run in the morning. But she posted a second run of 53.26 seconds to clinch victory ahead of Frida Hansdotter of Sweden. Bernadette Schild was third overall.
After Hansdotter could not match her time, it was down to Bernadette — nine years younger at 23 and seeking her first win — to beat her sibling.
Bernadette finished more than one second behind. She earned a big hug from Marlies at the finish line for securing her second career podium refinish. There would have been consequences, otherwise.
“She wouldn’t have got any Christmas presents,” Marlies Schild said after winning her third straight race at Courchevel, but her first since winning a slalom race at Soldeu-Grandvalira in Andorra in February 2012.
“It’s a very big (weight) falling off my body and my heart. It’s nearly two years ago since my last victory. Everyone was asking and asking what the problem was. I wasn’t feeling very good for a long time now.”
World champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States, who was seventh after the first run, finished 12th. She won the season’s opening slalom last month at Levi, Finland, but it has been a rough few days for the 18-year-old skier.
It was her lowest slalom finish since 15th in Schladming, Austria, in March 2012. On Sunday, she failed to finish the giant slalom in St. Moritz.
“I can’t win everything. I don’t think it’s good to win everything (because) then I just become complacent,” Shiffrin said. “So I need to know that Marlies is back. That’s the coolest thing for me because it’s nice to know I’m not the Snow Queen.”
Matching Schneider’s record was an extra bonus for Schild.
“Lindsey (Vonn) was always saying ‘If you make records, it’s the only thing you remember.’ I don’t think that’s the main thing,” Marlies said. “It’s just that (it means) you are a good skier when you break records. I’m glad that it’s over now.”
Last season, she stopped racing in March to recover from another knee injury, but the desire to keep going fueled her recovery.
“I lost some years because of injuries and always had the feeling that I could do more, and that’s the reason I’m still here,” she said. “I had back problems and knee surgery. I didn’t know if I could do it again. I was thinking a lot, I was thinking too much. But now I’ve got my self-confidence back.”
Shiffrin expects fierce competition from Marlies over the next few months.
“For her it wasn’t even that impressive. That’s saying something. She’s an amazing skier and I kept saying that I thought she was the best slalom skier,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t think I own that title, I think she owns it.”
Frances’ Tessa Worley, the giant slalom world champion, was taken to hospital after falling back on her skis and injuring her right knee in the first run. French team coach Anthony Sechaud said he’s concerned Worley could miss the Sochi Olympics.
Bernadette was 0.20 faster than her older sister after the first run.
Marlies, who took slalom bronze at the 2006 Olympics, flew down the Stade Emile Allais course on her second run — 0.80 seconds faster than Zettel on the first split, 0.80 quicker on the second, and 1.43 quicker as she crossed the line.
Bernadette said the unfamiliar position of leading the race made her nervous.
“It wasn’t too easy to me. I had to breathe deeply to get my heart rate down,” Bernadette said. “It’s different to stand up there when you’re the last one down.”