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Zettel wins Aspen women's World Cup slalom

ASPEN, Colorado -- Austria's Kathrin Zettel won the women's World Cup slalom in dominant style on Sunday, holding off compatriot Marlies Schild.

World champion Schild was denied a 34th slalom victory, which would match the record in the discipline of Swiss great Vreni Schneider.

Red-hot Slovenian Tina Maze, whose giant slalom victory on Saturday was her second in as many races in the discipline this season, settled for third.

She grabbed the last podium place ahead of German Maria Hoefl-Riesch who was skiing with a bruised left arm after a crash on Saturday.

Zettel, who was runner-up to Maze on Saturday, led after the opening leg, with Maze in second.

Zettel then delivered a blistering top second leg of 49.72 seconds for a combined time of 1 min 42.46 sec.

She finished 67-hundredths of a second faster than training partner Schild, who clocked a combined 1:43.13, with Maze third with a combined time of 1:44.27.

“I love Aspen! It's where I had my first podium, my first victory,” said Zettel, who claimed her first top-three World Cup finish here in 2005 and her first win in a giant slalom the following year.

Sunday's win was the ninth of a career that had been slowed by injury, and her first since 2010.

It was all the sweeter that it came against Schild, the skier that Zettel said was the driving force of the Austrians in training.

Maze remained atop the overall standings with 310 points after four events, with Zettel second on 260.

“I'm feeling fit and strong,” the Slovenian said. “Everything is going well for me.”

America's four-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn, still regaining fitness after an intestinal illness that landed her in hospital for a couple of days this month, opted not to compete.

She missed a second straight slalom, having also opted out of the season opener in the discipline at Levi, Finland, won by Hoefl-Riesch.

Vonn, who was 21st and clearly exhausted after Saturday's giant slalom, is hoping to have her stamina back next weekend when the women travel to Lake Louise for their first speed events of the season.

Vonn won all three races there last season.

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From left, second-placed Marlies Schild, of Austria, first-placed Kathrin Zettel, of Austria, and third-placed Tina Maze, of Slovenia, celebrate their podium in women's slalom at the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational Audi FIS Ski World Cup at Aspen Mountain in Aspen, Colorado, Sunday, Nov. 25. (AFP)

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