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ASPEN, Colo. - She's 2-for-2 and, with her main rivals out of the way, Marlies Schild is the early favorite in the World Cup slalom title chase.
Just two weeks into the season, the Olympic bronze medalist has already won two World Cup slalom races, leading an Austrian 1-2 on Sunday, with teammate Nicole Hosp again taking second.
Duplicating her performance in the previous slalom this month in Finland, Schild had the fastest times in both the morning and afternoon runs, winning with an aggregate time of 1 minute, 43.18 seconds. Amazingly, the 25-year-old's margin of victory was identical, a whopping 0.80 seconds ahead of Hosp.
"The DQ yesterday gave me motivation for today," said Schild, who missed a gate just meters from the finish line in Saturday's giant slalom. "I was not happy about the day yesterday. I wanted to do good today and I did."
It marked Schild's ninth career World Cup win, her eighth in slalom.
Sweden's Therese Borssen finished third in 1:44.25. In Finland, Austria swept the entire podium, with Kathrin Zettel placing third. This time, Zettel, who posted her maiden World Cup win in Saturday's giant slalom, finished fifth, 1.57 off the pace.
Schild is already just one victory shy of repeating her hat-trick from last season, when she swept three in a row.
With reigning World Cup overall and slalom champion Janica Kostelic taking a year off to recover from chronic back and knee problems, Schild is emerging as the favorite for the season's discipline title.
Two-time overall World Cup champion Anja Paerson, the Olympic slalom gold medalist, has been struggling since coming off surgery on her left knee after last season's finals. Last season, Kostelic, Schild and Paerson each won three slaloms apiece and finished in that order in the season-ending discipline standings.
"We all feel sorry that she (Kostelic) can't ski because it's fun to compete against her, but maybe she skis again next year," said Schild, the slalom bronze medalist and combined silver medalist at the Turin Olympics. "But I think that many others can ski really fast and also Anja."
Sixth after the opening run Sunday morning, Paerson climbed into fourth after the final leg, crossing 1.12 behind. In Saturday's giant slalom, she missed a gate in the opening run. She placed 12th in the slalom at Levi, Finland.
Schild should have a chance to repeat her hat trick next month in Megeve, France, if warm weather plaguing the region does not wreak havoc on that race, too.
The women's events in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 9-10 were canceled due to lack of snow and warm temperatures. The men's races in Val d'Isere, France, on the same weekend are also in danger.
Lindsey Kildow, who is known as a speed specialist but has been showing marked improvement in slalom, was the top American, finishing 16th, 4 seconds back.
Olympic giant slalom champion Julia Mancuso was 22nd, 6.05 behind.
Resi Stiegler, 13th after the opening leg, missed a gate on her second run, hiked back up to go through the gate and finished more than 7 seconds behind.