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Austria's Marlies Schild wins WCup slalom; Lindsay Vonn falls in 1st run
SOLDEU-GRANDVALIRA, Andorra (AP) ' 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 straight 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 to 1,350 points, 458 more than her nearest rival Maze. The Slovenian finished the race in 11th place, more than two seconds back.
Vonn has a shot at her 51st career win in the giant slalom on Sunday.
"Tomorrow is important for the giant slalom standings, I'm third right now," Vonn wqie. "So I hope I can make up some points."
Vonn's teammate, 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, had the best day for the U.S. skiers, finishing 10th after a strong second run.
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 Tina 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."
Croatia's Janica Kostelic holds the record for most slalom wins in one season at eight in the 2000-01 campaign.
Tanja Poutiainen of Finland led after the opening run but missed a gate with gusts blowing up the Avet course. On Friday, 62-mph winds caused havoc, knocking over TV towers and fences, and forced race organizers to cancel a giant slalom.
Fourteen skiers did not finish the race on the sunny slope under clear skies and temperatures at -10 degrees.
"Everyone racing today had wind in some parts," Schild said. "Some had more and some had less, that's bad but that's like it is. It's part of the sport."
Schild said she was confident that she would collect her fourth slalom World Cup title come season's end.
"That's the big goal for the season, and it looks really good at the moment," she said.
After Friday's bad weather, race organizers flipped the order of the weekend's races hoping that the slalom's shorter course on the lower section of the slope would be better shielded from the wind.
This is the first time Andorra, a small principality tucked between France and Spain, has hosted World Cup events.
"There are a lot of children out, everyone is excited to have the race here," Vonn said. "It was fun to ski and the crowd was great."