Patience definitely seems to be key a value that top ski champions need to have in order to fully achieve their potential! As Anja Pärson who had to wait a year to celebrate another World Cup triumph, Germany’s Maria Riesch has been looking for a long time for another downhill win – since December 2006, when she was the fastest at Lake Louise, Canada.
In the meantime, she achieved seven podium finishes in the specialty, often behind her good friend Lindsey Vonn as it was the case last week at Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Finally the 25-year-old from Garmisch-Partenkirchen managed to remain in the lead throughout the entire race while the US American could not do better than 5th after making a huge mistake in the upper part of the tricky ‘Corviglia’ course. It was Maria Riesch’s 13th World Cup win since January 2004.
The reigning slalom World Champion obviously felt as much happiness as relief after the race. She had a big smile on her face while answering dozens of questions from reporters at the finish area.
“It’s for sure a wonderful success for me, I have been aiming a long time for it. I knew I had the potential to win again a downhill but either Lindsey was out of reach or I made a small mistake in a crucial part of the course,” she explained afterwards. “I was pretty mad with myself yesterday after my problem in the Super-G run. Yet I was able to recover all my determination and my entire concentration to fight back with great energy today,” Riesch added. “I guess the most important for me was just not to think anymore about what happened yesterday. It was not easy because I was so angry.”
“Lindsey gracefully congratulated me while I was waiting at the leaders’ board – normally it’s the opposite. Yet she is having such an awesome season anyway. She was not happy with her run after making that mistake in that steep pitch. But I was upset yesterday, that’s the way it is in sport.”
“I like this slope a lot I have often been skiing quite well here. I got my first podium finish here in the downhill back in December 2003 and I was 3rd again here two years ago. It’s a good downhill when you like to attack and take chances. I really went for it again and went through pretty well. I had some problems in that steep right-hand turn where many skiers were shaken but I could keep a high line and carry on my speed in the final part.”
“It’s exciting to get that win under my belt two weeks prior the start of the Olympics. I know for sure that I can medal in any discipline now. It’s good for my moral. Medal events have their own rules so you need to be fully convinced of your chance to excel to be a favourite. I’m just happy to be going to Vancouver as I could not compete in 2006 at Turin when I had an injured knee.”
“This win also helps me to get closer to Lindsey in the Overall World Cup standings – I hope it can be a close battle until the finals at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I only won two races but I scored a lot of points in all specialties so it shows that I have been very consistent since the season’s start. This is also very important for my moral.”
This victory also increased Maria’s confidence in her equipment. While Anja Pärson tested a longer pair of racing skis today, the Bavarian used her usual pair that she almost ruined last week at Cortina d’Ampezzo skiing over a stone. Fortunately her service rep managed to perfectly repair the base of the damaged ski which was as efficient as the other one today.
“Things are really looking well for me now, I’m very happy and confident,” she said at the end of her press conference.
Anja Pärson was close to the podium
Anja Pärson missed by only 1/100 of a second another spot on the podium here - but the Swede was not totally unhappy with her run and her day. "The visibility was a problem when I skied, it was sometimes tough to see the ruts and to get the right feeling, but at the end of the day it was not so bad for me," she explained.
"I tested a new pair of longer racing skis and I'm pretty pleased with what I felt going down the slope," the two-time Overall World Cup winner added. "I feel ready now for the coming events, I'm pleased with my form and my momentum."