© PONTUS LUNDAHL
Lenzerheide – The four still open ball decisions in the Alpine Ski World Cup could be made on Saturday. In Lenzerheide, the women’s slalom with Katharina Liensberger as one of three contenders for crystal and the men’s giant slalom are on the program. The Slovakian Petra Vlhova only needs a few points with 96 points ahead of Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) to get the big ball. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) has 31 points credit on Marco Odermatt (SUI).
The last technology weekend of winter starts with the giant slalom runners (9 am / 12 noon), the points cushion from Odermatt to Pinturault is 25 points. It is a three-way battle for the women in the goal run (10.30 / 13.30, both live TT.com ticker), Vlhova goes into the final race with 22 points ahead of Liensberger and 37 over the American Mikaela Shiffrin. For Austria it would be the first slalom ball since Marlies Schild 2012.
Liensberger and the dream of slalom crystal
Slalom world champion Liensberger admits that “the dream of the crystal ball is huge”. When it is so close and so present, you naturally want to see it through. “I can only drive my race. I’m really happy, it’s really nice that I came here so liberating and that I can ski with fun.” If someone had told her at the start of the season in October that she would be racing against Vlhova and Shiffrin, she would have said, “wow, that fits”. But in retrospect it is difficult to say whether she would have been ready to believe it.
Not so long ago Shiffrin and Vlhova were role models for Liensberger, now they meet “extremely fair and respectful”. “Petra and Mika are incredibly strong slalom runners who know what fast means. They are at a top level, I really enjoy riding with them. We have brought each other to an extremely high level, everyone has improved and pushed the others. “
📆 The rest of the program at the World Cup finals
- 9.00 a.m. / 12.00 p.m .: Giant slalom men
- 10.30 a.m. / 1.30 p.m .: Slalom women
- 9.00 a.m. / 12.00 p.m .: Giant slalom women
- 10.30 a.m. / 1.45 p.m .: Slalom men
The 23-year-old from Vorarlberg welcomes the fact that it is now boiling down to a real showdown. “I really like something like that, because then I feel the thrill in me and know that something is at stake and is worth doing.” She was able to show consistency throughout the season. “Now I stand there and know that it is possible.”
▶ Who wins like the little crystal ball:
- If Liensberger wins, who recently celebrated her World Cup debut success in Aare, Vlhova should only be third, so that the Austrian is ahead in the final score.
- Regardless of the performance of the others, the Slovak woman is enough to take second place.
- If Shiffrin wins, Vlhova can only finish third at most, so that the American can achieve her seventh slalom crystal.
A place in the top 15 is enough for Vlhova
In the battle for the big ball, Vlhova can make everything clear ahead of time if she gets into the top 15, who get points. Because then she will have a lead of more than 100 points over giant slalom world champion Gut-Behrami, who will not compete in the slalom on Saturday. Odermatt does not plan to strap on his skis for the gate run on Sunday either, it remains to be seen how he will decide, should he mathematically still have a chance on Sunday.
Marco Schwarz is still fighting for third place in the overall standings; in fourth, he is only six points behind the Swiss Loic Meillard. The season ends on Sunday with the women’s giant slalom (09.00 / 12.00) and the men’s slalom (10.30 / 13.45), the ball winners are Marta Bassino and Schwarz.
▶ All ball decisions are listed in the graphic: