Riesch gets her revenge in super-combined
AP Sports Writer
WHISTLER, British Columbia – There were no distractions for Maria Riesch this time. Nobody falling directly in front of her at the start of the downhill track, nobody crashing off the massive jump at the finish.
The result? The German standout won the gold medal in the Olympic super-combined race Thursday.
“Today everything was fitting together,” Riesch said. “That’s what I said before these Olympics Games – for winning a gold medal everything must be perfect that day for you. Today everything was perfect for me.”
Riesch acknowledged she was a bit spooked in Wednesday’s downhill, her Olympic debut, when the two racers immediately before her crashed – Marion Rolland of France fell and tore her ACL before she even got to the first gate, and Anja Paerson of Sweden made a crash landing after flying 60 meters – half a football field – off the course’s final jump.
Riesch finished eighth as her best friend and chief rival, Lindsey Vonn, claimed gold.
In the super-combined, Riesch sat second behind Vonn after the downhill leg, then put down an error-free slalom run to put the pressure on the American, the last of the leaders to ski in the second run.
Vonn hooked a tip midway down and the gold was Riesch’s.
Like Vonn – whose downhill gold was her first Olympic medal – Riesch also had a troubled road before reaching the sport’s pinnacle.
Both 25, Riesch was progressing more rapidly than Vonn before she had season-ending injuries that cut her 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons short and ruled her out of the 2006 Turin Games.
“Maria has had a lot of injuries and she hasn’t been to any Olympics so far in her career, and I know she’s had a lot of pressure on her from her country and everyone, so I think it’s really cool for her to get that gold medal today,” Vonn said. “She really deserved it. She’s worked really hard.
“It’s great to see my friend up there. I wish I was up there with her – it would have been the perfect day for both of us – but I’m sure she doesn’t mind that I’m not there. I’m sure she’s happy with the gold either way.”
Riesch admitted she wasn’t too disappointed about Vonn’s fall.
“Today it was a bad (day) for her, yesterday it was a bad day for me,” Riesch said. “That’s how sports is.”
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