Maria Riesch celebrated a very 'special' victory today as she won the last FIS Audi World Cup downhill of the season in front of her fans and friends beating by nearly half a second her great friend Lindsey Vonn at the end of her very aggressive run. It's the first time that the double Olympic Champion managed to win a World Cup race on home soil a year after finishing 2nd in a slalom dominated by the American.
Sweden's Anja Pärson reached a stunning 3rd place behind that duo, reinforcing her 3rd place in both the Downhill and the Overall standings.
3rd season win for Maria
It's Maria's third season World Cup win - the 14th in her career - and her second in downhill after her triumph at St. Moritz six weeks ago. This result allows the Bavarian to remain in the race for the Overall World Cup standings against Vonn, who leads now with an advance of 225 points on her three races before the season end.
Yet the 25-year-old was more happy with her newest triumph than with the twenty World Cup points she gained on her friend with her win.
"I still have a big handicap on Lindsey, I don't think too much about those extra points I made on her today," said the German with a huge smile after the race. "My main goal this week is to keep my slalom World Cup title. I was not so nervous before this downhill race," she added. "It helped me to find a good rhythm and ski a strong race. I know this hill pretty well yet the main advantage being from Garmisch-Partenkirchen is to be very motivated because of all the fans that came to support me here today. You want to excel in front of them and I tried really hard."
"I was amazed at the finish line seeing that I had such a big lead on the next skier behind me, so I started to hope for a great result," also said Maria Riesch. "I didn't make any big mistake in the technically demanding part and I knew I had a chance to stay ahead. To win a downhill in front of Lindsey is pretty exciting but it doesn't really change my opinion of my chances to clinch the Overall title. I would need to win two more races and finish once among the top-5 while Lindsey should fail to score any more point to allow me to get the cup. It's pretty difficult to imagine."
"I rather focus on the coming race trying each time to have as much fun as possible. I'm already very pleased with my successes at the Olympics and during the present World Cup season. I'm proud to have so often reached the podium in all disciplines. This result is of course very encouraging looking forward for the next season. It's good to feel comfortable on the course of the next World Championships."
Another podium for Lindsey and Anja
Lindsey Vonn was not too disappointed to finish for once 2nd in her best specialty. "I'm happy for Maria, she achieved an outstanding run and fully deserves her win," she said. "My line was not as clean as I was hoping, I made a few mistakes but I'm satisfied with my result. It's important to me to keep on scoring as often as possible big points during these finals," added the skier from Vail prior receiving her third consecutive downhill globe.
"It's not over yet. I know that Maria is a fighter; she will keep on attacking hard in the remaining competitions here. I'll try hard to score a few points in tomorrow's giant slalom. It's my worst event and it will not be easy to ski among the top 15."
Anja Pärson too was satisfied with her performance and her first World Cup podium finish since her horrendous crash at the Olympics. She didn't finish the previous downhill at Crans-Montana because of the bad visibility on her way down the 'Piste Nationale'. "It's good to be back on the podium, it's an important result for me after all the bad luck I had in past weeks," the double World Cup champion said. "I attacked hard and made mistakes but fortunately I didn't lose too much time."
The 28-year-old skier from Sweden has apparently not decided yet on her future on the World Cup tour. This good result may encourage her to continue racing for a while - or not. "It's really tough for your body to compete in all events, I wish to leave the circuit in good health," she recently told the press. "I'll make up my mind this spring. For the moment I'll do my best to end the season on a high note and then take a deserved break in Sweden. I bought myself a new powerful skidoo and I'm looking forward to use it on our frozen lake or on the hills surrounding Taernaby," she also explained.