Maria Riesch came close to joining the legends of the sport of ski racing in winning in all five disciplines with second place in the Giant Slalom in Semmering, Austria. After being third in the first run, Riesch turned on the gas to put the disappointment of Val d’Isere behind her to match her career best result in the Giant Slalom. With Tessa Worley winning her third straight race in Giant Slalom, Kathrin Hoelzl edged out Lizz Goergl from the podium with Lindsey Vonn in seventh and Anja Paerson in 14th to mark a great day for HEAD with four in the top fifteen racers.
For Maria Riesch this was a day to get the season back on track after the soft snow experience in Val d’Isere. This result was very much a case second place won rather than lamenting over a missed opportunity for a first Giant Slalom win: “I’m just happy about the second place,” Riesch said after the race. “Sixth tenths is a lot of distance to first place. For second place you always have to be happy. I know how it is when you’re fighting hard. Second place is very satisfying. The start of the season was great for me. Just before Christmas I had three or four races which were not so good. So it was not a problem to go for Christmas holiday and start with new motivation. You can come back strong. I’m really proud of it.”
For Lindsey Vonn the chance was there to make some big points and may add to her growing list of records: Like Maria Riesch, Giant Slalom is the only victory missing from the Trophy cabinet. "I was in a good position to maybe get on the podium today," said Vonn, who was sixth after the first run. "I just got too round in the middle section, I just gave the course too much respect,” before adding "I am consistently skiing in the top-10 (of the GS) now and I haven't done that for the rest of my career," she said. "My confidence is there and I know what to do know. It's a matter of skiing an aggressive run from top to bottom but not over skiing and not making mistakes."
Lizz Goergl yet again put in two determined and powerful runs and came away with fourth, just missing a podium by 0.07 seconds. "I am pleased with fourth place. Sure it is nice if you stand on the podium. But the World Cup is not a request show. I wanted to race on the limit, and most of me is happy," explained Goergl.
Despite losing the overall lead to Riesch, neither she nor Lindsey Vonn are placing too much emphasis on this at this stage of the season. With a night slalom scheduled also for Semmering, Vonn is looking forward to the many speed races that are scheduled for January. In her customary politeness, Maria Riesch commented that it was “obviously very nice” to be leading the standings again!
1. Tessa Worley
2. Maria Riesch (GER) HEAD
3. Kathrin Hoelzl
4. Lizz Goergl (AUT) HEAD
7. Lindsey Vonn (USA) HEAD
14. Anja Paerson (SWE) HEAD
28. Anne Sophie Barthet (FRA) HEAD
30. Giulia Gianesini (ITA) HEAD