Incline Village native Lila Lapanja scores first World Cup points
FLACHAU, Austria — Veteran Resi Stiegler led the U.S. team in a night of firsts at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom Tuesday, taking 15th. But under the lights, it was a pair of young U.S. Ski Team members who shined, with Lila Lapanja of Incline Village and Paula Moltzan scoring their first career World Cup points.
Lapanja, who came up racing for the Diamond Peak and Sugar Bowl ski teams, finished 23rd. Moltzan was 25th.
Skiing in only her third World Cup start, Lapanja came out of the 37th start position and laid down a smooth first run, finishing 22nd. By comparison, Mikaela Shiffrin scored her first World Cup points in her fourth start and Lindsey Vonn scored her first points in her 12th start.
“I had to be a little bit smarter with my tactics (on the second run), let the skis go out a little bit more, but I was a little bit impatient because I was so amped,” Lapanja said. “I feel pretty good, but I’m a competitor and I already know what I want to do differently to go even faster. But this is an amazing start and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Lapanja, who made her World Cup debut earlier this season in Aspen, went back to the NorAm circuit and won a pair of slalom races in Panorama, B.C., last month before joining the team in Europe after the holidays.
Moltzan, the slalom champion at the 2015 Junior World Championships, put down two solid runs in her 14th World Cup start. She finished 26th on her first run and then charged the course on the second run to score her first career World Cup points.
“It’s pretty exciting!” she said. “Second run wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but I fought the whole way down and scored my first World Cup points.”
Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia won the race for her third career World Cup win. Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic was second, followed by World Cup slalom leader Frida Hansdotter of Sweden in third.
Up next, the women race another slalom under the lights again in Flachau Friday night, followed by giant slalom Sunday.