US teen Shiffrin leads WCup slalom ahead of Maze

ERIC WILLEMSEN Associated Press Published:

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Mikaela Shiffrin posted the fastest time in the first leg of a women's slalom Friday, beating overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.35 seconds.

The 17-year-old Shiffrin, who won her first race last month to briefly lead the slalom standings, came down the Crveni Spust course in 59.26 seconds.

"I skied solid. It went really smooth," Shiffin said. "I was just letting my skis taking me to the bottom and that is what I am looking for."

Defending overall champion Lindsey Vonn, who went back to training Thursday after a monthlong break from the circuit, skipped the race. Slalom world champion Marlies Schild of Austria had been ruled out for three months after knee surgery in December.

Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden was third, 0.72 behind Shiffrin. Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia, who two the last two events in Semmering and Munich, was 10th.

Shiffrin had a good start and a strong finish to her run, but Maze was quicker in the middle part. Maze briefly led the American by 0.04 at the second intermediate time before a costly mistake in the final section.

"Right now, I am not nervous (about leading)," Shiffrin said. "I am sure I will be a little bit anxious when I get into the starting gate, but I'll put that aside and try to do my best. I have done this many times before."

Shiffrin said she was back to full strength after fighting a persistent cold in December.

"I was a little bit sick, I think I have my energy back now," she said.

Maze has 310 points to lead the discipline standings, five points clear of Velez Zuzulova. Shiffrin dropped to fourth with 236 points after not finishing the Semmering race a week ago.

"It's definitely one of my goals to win the slalom title," Shiffrin said. "And then the GS title, and sometime the overall. Right now, I am taking it day by day and race by race."

The course was in excellent condition despite rising temperatures in the last few days.