January 12, 2016

FLACHAU, Austria (AP) Slovak skier Veronika Velez Zuzulova overcame snowfall and a softened course to end a three-year wait for her third World Cup win on Tuesday.

Holding on to a commanding first-leg lead in a night slalom, Velez Zuzulova avoided risks in her final run, and screamed for joy with both arms in the air after finishing.

''I am really happy,'' she said. ''I had to wait a long time to have this feeling again.''

Three years ago, Velez Zuzulova won two races within three days - a slalom in Semmering, Austria, and a city event in Munich.

On Tuesday, Velez Zuzulova finished in an aggregate time of 1 minute, 46.58 seconds on the floodlit Hermann Maier World Cup Course to beat Sarka Strachova of Czech Republic by 0.31.

Frida Hansdotter finished 1.05 behind in third and retained her lead in the discipline standings. The Swede has 425 points, followed by Strachova with 351, and Velez Zuzulova with 320.

In the overall standings, Hansdotter was third with 581 points, behind leader Lara Gut with 738 and Lindsey Vonn with 700. Gut and Vonn don't race slaloms.

Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, who was 0.54 behind Velez Zuzulova in second after the opening run, dropped to fourth.

On a course set by her coach and husband, Romain Velez, the halftime leader started fast in her final run to extend her lead to 1.10 before reducing the risks. Velez Zuzulova lost nearly three-tenths of a second at each split time but the margin was big enough.

''For sure, the second run was more tough than the first,'' Velez Zuzulova said. ''It was the first time that I skied the course of my husband. I am really happy that I managed to win it. It will be a nice memory for us.''

In a difficult first run due to snowfall, Velez Zuzulova built a huge lead over her rivals. Holdener and Strachova were the only finishers within a second of the Slovak.

''I attacked from the start. I got the confidence in Santa Caterina in the second run,'' Velez Zuzulova said, referring to last week's race in Italy where she posted the fastest time in the final run to climb from 13th to third place.

''The slope was not perfect but it was still possible to ski fast,'' Velez Zuzulova said. ''If the slope is broken and you attack you feel the problems less.''

The women's World Cup stays in Flachau for another night slalom on Friday, and a giant slalom on Sunday. Those races have been moved from Ofterschwang because of a lack of snow in the German resort.

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