Vail’s Schleper win FIS race in Switzerland
ST. ANTON, Switzerland — Vail’s Sarah Schleper returned to a familiar place Tuesday — the top of the podium.
Racing in an International Ski Federation (FIS) giant slalom, the Vail native got her first win after returning to skiing since a two-year layoff, due to a back injury in 2006-07 and marriage and the birth of her son in 2007-08.
Schleper’s father, Buzz, who owns Buzz’s Boards in Vail Village, got the news when he logged on to his computer Tuesday morning.
“I saw it online this morning and called her and she was super-excited — the first win since she came back,” Buzz said. “The conditions were a bit cloudy with patches rolling in and out. The snow was a bit gripy, but she felt like she is starting to get here mojo back.”
The Schleper camp has been working on tuning skis, using current women’s overall leader, Lindsey Vonn, as an example. According to Buzz, Vonn’s husband, Thomas, a former World Cup racer, recently saw Schleper ski and said her skis weren’t sharp enough.
Lindsey Vonn had been having the same problems last year apparently which Schleper had been encountering. Vonn, with sharper skis, has jumped from 32nd last season in the World Cup slalom standings to second this year.
Schleper and company hope that this could be the start of exciting things as the Vail racer aims for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Those would the fourth Olympics dating back to 1998 in her career.
Before her two-year-absence, Schleper captured her first career World Cup win in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on March 12, 2005, in a slalom. The next year, she took 10th in the Olympic slalom in Torino, Italy.
Since returning, Schleper has stuck to giant slaloms and slaloms on the World Cup. Her best finish was in the Aspen GS in 13th.
Recently, she’s been adding some FIS races for some more work and her results have been climbing steadily. She was seventh in Lenzerheide in January in GS and took fourth and third in slaloms on back-to-back days last month in Malbrun, Liechtenstein, before Tuesday’s win.
Schleper blitzed the field in the first run with a time of 1 minute, 5.97 seconds in the first run, easily the fastest time of the day. Her 1:09.54 in the second run added up to a slick time of 2:15.51, ahead of Canada’s Shona Rubens and Austria’s Stefanie Moser.
Schleper returns to the World Cup in Ofterschwang, Germany, for Saturday’s GS and Sunday’s slalom. Afterward, she returns home to prepare for the United States National Championships in Alaska.