Double victory for HEAD at the Worlds

February 14th, 2009

A great comeback for Maria Riesch

Overcoming a difficult period marked by poor results and crashes in downhill training and in giant slalom, Germany’s Maria Riesch captured her first gold medal at the Val d’Isère World Championships thanks to a fantastic second run to win the spectacular women's slalom.

The Bavarian, who hands her team its second gold medal in two days, was only in 6th after the first run before posting an impressive best time in the second to beat by 77/100 of a second defending slalom World Champion and HEAD team mate Sarka Zahrobska from the Czech Republic.

An amazing second run for Riesch

24-year-old Riesch, a four-time winner this winter in slalom, signed off in style after missing out on a medal in her previous four events and suffering bruises in a downhill training crash last week.

“After the second run I just didn't think this was possible,” all-rounder Riesch said afterwards. “This is just amazing after all I've been through here. Everybody believed I could do it but me. The Championships had been so tough for me and I was a bit discouraged. I missed a great medal chance last week in Super-combined with that slow slalom run and then I felt much weight on me in the following races. There was already much pressure on my shoulders prior the first races here, some German newspaper even expected me to win as much as four medals in Val d’Isère. It’s hard to deal with all this expectation.”

“In the first run, I was not aggressive enough so I was ready for a great comeback in the afternoon. I hit everything pretty well and I was hoping for a medal but for sure not for the golden one with so many top favorites still waiting to start.”

“They all fought hard and made mistakes, it’s for sure tough but also part of the game. I feel very sorry of course for my friend Lindsey who did achieve such a great performance in the first run despite her injured hand,” Riesch added. “I know she was also routing for me prior the race, she wanted me to go back home with a medal.”

“It’s of course wonderful that I’ll be able to defend my title in two years at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in front of my fans. It should be a highlight in my career, but in the meantime there are still many other goals to reach for me. I also aim to soon find back my form in the speed events. I don’t really understand why I’m struggling now in Super-G after my great results from last winter.”

A great season for Sarka

Czech Sarka Zahrobska, a winner at Aspen last year, made the most in the second run of a course set by her father and coach, Petr, to win her third FIS medal in four years. She clinched bronze in slalom at Santa Caterina in 2005 and then gold at Are in 2007.

“I have now the full collection, this is just great, I’m very happy,” said Sarka, 4th after the first leg. “I felt really comfortable on my father’s run which was technically more demanding and faster too. This morning I was mostly hoping to get a medal today so I’m pleased now. There were many contenders fighting for a podium finish today and you surely need some luck to get it.”

“It has been a good season for me with my first World Cup win in November and this medal. Now I’m aiming for my first Olympic medal at Vancouver next year.”

Most of the top skiers of these excellent 40th FIS Worlds will only enjoy a short break at home or on the road as the next World Cup races are already scheduled for the coming weekend at Tarvisio, in Italy. Three races as scheduled there and then three more the following week at Bansko, in Bulgaria. After another weekend in Germany, at Ofterschwang, the entire World Cup tour will meet again at Are, in Sweden, for the Finals.