Tanja Poutiainen all smiles after World Cup slalom in Slovenia
Second slalom podium this season, while giant slalom results have been poor
For Finland’s top Alpine skier Tanja Poutiainen, Sunday was the second time in the current season that she climbed on the podium in a World Cup event.
Both times Poutiainen finished 2nd, first in December in the slalom race in Courchevel in France, and now at the slalom in Kranjska Gora in Slovenia.
After her second run Poutiainen looked up at the clock and saw she was in the lead, prompting jubilant celebrations.
”This was definitely my best run of this season. In Courchevel my performance was not so strong, while Zagreb’s race [6th place] was better. In some way, Zagreb gave me a feeling that I do know what I am doing out here, and today I had the same feeling”, Poutiainen said.
Poutiainen’s second run was as good as it gets. On the first descent she lost her balance and almost skied out. Even so, she was the 3rd fastest down the hill.
”It was difficult to stay on the track, but fortunately my feet were fast today. In the icy spot I was lucky and I didn't lose too much time”, Poutiainen commented.
After the second run, Poutiainen enjoyed a clear lead, but Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser, the last skier to go, was even quicker, and the eventual margin was a comfortable 0.65 seconds.
”After the second run, I thought that I'd done enough for the win, but it was not to be. Kirchgasser’s performance today was very good, and she is having a strong season in every respect, one of the best during her career. She earned the victory here”, Poutiainen explained.
At present, Tanja Poutiainen’s success seems to be based entirely on the slalom.
In recent years, Poutiainen has been equally good in both the slalom and giant slalom disciplines, but now something is wrong with her giant slalom performances.
On Saturday Poutiainen came home a humdrum 10th in the Kranjska Gora race, 1.83 seconds off the pace of the winner, and this was her best standing in a WC giant slalom event in the current season. After the race, she said that she felt happy with her second run, which produced the 9th fastest time and pulled her up from 14th at halfway.
If she felt contented after such a performance, it is strange how much Poutiainen has lowered her own expectations. She is after all a five-time giant slalom winner on the World Cup tour, and actually took the overall title for the 2005 and 2009 seasons, as well as capturing a giant slalom silver medal in torino in 2006.
However, in Sunday’s slalom event everything went well. The icy and challenging slope was ideal for Poutiainen, as she could make full use of her broad experience and routine.
Moreover, Austria’s Marlies Schild, who had won the previous five WC slalom races, gave her rivals an easier time of it in Kranjska Gora by skiing out on her first run.
Finland's other two entrants in the slalom, Merle Soppela and Sanni Leinonen, both emulated Schild and failed to finish their first run.
Poutiainen is currently ranked 4th in the slalom World Cup standings with 270 points, behind Schild, Tina Maze of Slovenia, and Michaela Kirchgasser.
Previously in HS International Edition:
FIS pages: Tanja Poutiainen
Same placings, wildly different sentiments (8.2.2011)
Tanja Poutiainen shares World Cup slalom victory with Maria Riesch (12.1.2011)
FIS World Cup: Poutiainen on the podium, but little else for Finns to cheer in Levi (15.11.2010)
Tanja Poutiainen website