Skiing: Marlies Schild slaloms into record books

Sisters Marlies (left) and Bernadette Schild are all smiles after the World Cup slalom. Picture: Reuters
Sisters Marlies (left) and Bernadette Schild are all smiles after the World Cup slalom. Picture: Reuters
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Marlies Schild joked that her younger sister would not have got any Christmas presents if she had stopped her from equalling Vreni Schneider’s record for World Cup slalom wins in Courcheval, France, yesterday.

Marlies overcame her younger sister Bernadette’s leading time from the first run to win her 34th slalom. The 2011 slalom world champion was third after the first run in the morning, but the elder Schild posted a second run of 53.26 seconds to clinch victory ahead of Frida Hansdotter of Sweden. Bernadette Schild was third overall, and Kathrin Zettel of Austria fourth.

After Hansdotter could not match her time, it was down to Bernadette Schild – nine years younger at 23 and seeking her first win – to stop her sibling equalling the record. “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,” she said. “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.”

Matching Schneider’s record from 1986-95 was an extra bonus. “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 hunger to keep going fuelled 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.”

World champion Mikaela Shiffrin, who was seventh after the first run, finished 12th. Tessa Worley, the Frenchwoman who won a giant slalom in St Moritz last weekend, was taken to hospital after falling back on her skis and injuring her right knee in the first run. Bernadette was 0.13 seconds faster than Hansdotter and 0.20secs clear of her elder 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 - 0.8secs faster than Zettel on the first split, 0.8secs quicker on the second, and 1.43secs quicker as she crossed the line.

Bernadette was more than one second behind. Still, she earned a big hug from Marlies at the finish line for securing her second career podium result, after finishing second at Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in March. Being in the unfamiliar position of leading the race gave her some added stress.

“It wasn’t too easy to me. I had to breathe deeply to get my heart rate down. It’s different to stand up there when you’re the last one down,” Bernadette said. “You know that after me, the race is over.”

Worley, the giant slalom world champion, toppled backward before twisting forward and landing in the safety netting. She was taken down the slope on a stretcher and to a hospital in Lyon. No further information was immediately available.

“I feel bad for her. She was in really good shape,” Marlies said. “I know what it’s like to have so many injuries. I wish her all the best for her comeback and I hope it’s not too bad.”

Anthony Sechaud, coach of the French women, voiced his concern that she could miss the Winter Games in Sochi. “Honestly, I’m very worried. It’s a big blow for her,” he said.