The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Maria Hoefl-Riesch wins Cortina downhill to take command of discipline ranks Vonn dominated

  • Print

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy - Overall World Cup leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch won a shortened downhill Friday and established herself as the favourite to take away two of Lindsey Vonn's titles.

Hoefl-Riesch took full command of the downhill standings that the injured Vonn dominated for the past six years and improved her status as the favourite for the women's downhill at the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 12 — the race Vonn won at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

"The downhill globe is a big goal for me," Hoefl-Riesch said. "The last years it was always impossible because Lindsey was so strong. I already was skiing strong in the last years but there was never a chance, because I was not consistent enough on every single track like Lindsey.

"And of course I would love to win the Olympic downhill," Hoefl-Riesch said. "That's the biggest race in skiing."

Julia Roth of Waterloo, Ont., was 44th. Larisa Yurkiw of Owen Sound, Ont., did not start the first run.

With her parents and husband in attendance, Hoefl-Riesch won in 1 minute, 17.84 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course for the 27th World Cup victory of her career.

"I knew that I had to attack a lot with a shortened course and that it would be very tight," Hoefl-Riesch said. "It was really flat light and tricky in a few turns where some girls had big problems. But not me."

Hoefl-Riesch said that she tweaked her left knee while landing a jump and that she felt some pain but was not overly concerned.

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein finished second, 0.31 seconds behind, and Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria was third with the No. 39 bib, 0.75 behind.

Lara Gut of Switzerland was fourth and Stacey Cook of the United States was fifth as the pair missed out on the podium by 0.01 and 0.03 seconds, respectively.

It was the best result this season for Cook, who finished second in two downhills in Lake Louise, Alberta, last season.

The victory gave Hoefl-Riesch an 85-point lead over Weirather in the downhill standings after six of eight races, with wins worth 100 points each.

In the overall standings, Hoefl-Riesch leads Weirather by 158 points.

Hoefl-Riesch's other two wins this season also came in downhill, in Lake Louise. She also has podium results in slalom, super-combined and super-G and credits part of her all-around success to Hermann Maier's former physical trainer, Heinrich Bergmueller, who she began working with in the off-season.

"I was also training hard the summers before but it's a new way with a new coach and some things are different," she said. "I feel much stronger this year and with my recovery for all disciplines."

Vonn ended her season recently to tend to her right knee, which she first injured in a horrific crash at last year's world championships in Schladming, Austria.

Hoefl-Riesch is friendly with Vonn but she wasn't about to take anything away from her own success just because her rival is out now.

"That's skiing," said Hoefl-Riesch, who had four serious injuries in 2005. "I was not at the Olympic Games in 2006 and no one was asking the winner of the medals there if they miss me. So a medal is a medal and a title is a title, no matter who is competing and who is not."

Vonn used to spend Christmas at Hoefl-Riesch's home in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and they remain in contact.

"We were just writing a little on WhatsApp a little bit," Hoefl-Riesch said. "I think she's doing OK and I hope that we can talk on the phone before I go to Sochi."

Due to overnight snow and difficulty preparing the course, the start was delayed for half an hour and the course was shortened slightly — chopping off about 20 seconds of racing.

With softer snow and flat light, it was a sharp change in conditions from Wednesday's only training run, which was held under bright sunshine.

Conditions improved for later starters as a tailwind moved in. The wind helped Schmidhofer, whose only other podium finish also came in Cortina, having finished second in a super-G last year.

"I was hoping for a tailwind," Schmidhofer said, before she addressed her chances of being selected for Sochi. "I hope the coaches look at my result."

The revised start put skiers directly into the course's best-known section, the Tofane schuss — a long straightaway between two high rock outcroppings.

"I generally do OK when there are straight shots out of the gate like that," Cook said. "So that was a little confidence booster to kick out of the gate, get on my skis and not have to do too much and then get into it. And then I just tried to not ski a perfect line but ski perfect body position and really attacking. And it seems to have been fast."

Elisabeth Goergl, the Austrian who won a super-G on Thursday, lost control after hitting a gate and slammed into the safety padding at full speed. But she got right back up, skied down and said she was not injured.

Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday, followed by a second super-G on Sunday to round out a series of four races in four days.

Two of the races were originally scheduled for last weekend in Cortina but were wiped out due to heavy snowfall. The other two were moved from Garmisch due to a lack of snow in the German resort.

___

Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/asdampf

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google