Hoefl-Riesch back on top, takes World Champs super combined
SCHLADMING, Austria — While she hasn't been on the podium since November, Maria Hoefl-Riesch reminded the world that she's still one of the best all-around skiers on the circuit, winning the World Championships super combined in Schladming, Austria Friday.
Finishing nearly a half-second back, Tina Maze was her closest competition. In the morning's downhill run, the Slovenian shared the fastest time with local favorite Anna Fenninger. Maze had a strong slalom performance as well, but just couldn't keep pace with Hoefl-Riesch on the lower half of the slalom course, which the German smoked.
"It was a difficult slalom. The hill was not so easy, and I didn't feel perfect," said Hoefl-Riesch. "I was pretty sure that it would not be possible to win gold because Tina was so strong the whole season, especially in slalom she was always getting better and better, and I didn't finish the last two.
"The upper section [of the slalom], I felt that I was a little too conservative. The light was flat and the snow was not totally smooth. There were ruts, and in the past, I have had problems with such conditions. I just tried to have a round line and not be too straight in the gates."
Collecting the bronze, Nicole Hosp finally delivered a medal for the Austrian fans. It was her first time on the World Championship podium since 2007 and first time since a 2010 ACL tear slowed her down for a couple years.
"It was like [it was] in the past for me," said Hosp. "I made a mistake in a little part and lost a lot of time, but I had a good starting position and not that much of a time delay. ... It was really hard because no medals in two races for Austria. The whole nation was looking on these races. Everybody wants to get medals and it was really hard for me to get one today."
For Hoefl-Riesch, it was just her second World Championship gold. The other came in slalom in slalom in 2009.
Julia Mancuso was the leading lady for the American representation, which is made up almost entirely of non-slalom skiers. Mancuso was the only one of them with a slalom start this season, and she was pleasantly surprised to actually excel in that portion of today's race.
In fact, if Mancuso had had a mistake-free downhill run, she might have made a run at the podium. She was 19th in the morning, 8th on the day.
"It was a good slalom run there. It wasn't bad. No pressure," said Mancuso. "I guess I needed to be two seconds faster in the downhill if I was going to be competing for a medal, but that was kind of my mistake today. … The course is much better now. There's not as much snow and it's harder, so it suits me. Those girls are going so hard at these World Championships, so you really have to put everything on the line."
First-run co-leader Anna Fenninger looked nervous from the moment she kicked out of the slalom start. She didn't make it 10 or 15 gates before an ugly straddle knocked her out of the course.
Story by Geoff Mintz
Photos by GEPA
by Hank McKee
Women's World Championship combined, Schladming, Austria, Feb. 8, 2013
1 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
2 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
3 Hosp, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4 Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Goergl, Head/Head/Head
7 Goggia, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Mancuso, Head/Head/Head
9 Hector, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Gisin, Dynastar/Lange/Marker
Women's World Championship combined, Schladming, Austria, Feb. 8, 2013. ... It is the third medal event of 10 (plus a team event) scheduled for the championships, the second for women. ... It is the 72nd World Championship combined, the 36th for women. ... It is the ninth individual World Championship event held at Schladming which also hosted the men's races in 1982. ... Anna Fenninger is the defending champion.
It is the second World Championship and the fourth World Championship medal for Maria Hoefl-Riesch, her first in combined. ... She also owns two Olympic golds, one in combined and one in slalom and both from Whistler (2010). ... It is her second win of the season after the Levi slalom Nov. 10. ... She has one other podium finish this season, a third in downhill at Lake Louise Nov. 30. ... Four of her 24 World Cup wins have come in combined.
It is the fifth World Championship medal for Tina Maze, her second of these championships having gained gold in super G. It is her third Worlds silver and second silver in combined, the previous coming at Garmisch (2011). ... She also owns two Olympic silver medals, both from Whistler, one in super G and one in GS. ... It is her 19th podium of the season.
It is the fifth World Championship medal for Nicole Hosp (plus a team medal in 2005). ... It is her second in combined having also won silver at St Moritz (2003). ... she also owns an Olympic silver medal in slalom from Sestriere (2006). ... It is her second podium result of the season after a second in combined at St Moritz Dec. 7.
It is the 14th career World Championship top 10 for Julia Mancuso (plus a team fourth place finish). ... and second of these championships. ... It is her fourth best of five championship combined finishes. ... It is her 13th top 10 of the season. ... It is the second best of five World Championship results for Laurenne Ross and her career best in combined. ... She matches her second best finish of the season following a fifth in DH at St Anton Jan. 12. ... It is the fourth best of six World Championship results for Stacey Cook. ... and her fifth best finish of the season.
SLO - 2 (gold, silver)
USA - 2 (gold, bronze)
GER - 1 (gold)
FRA - 1 (silver)
SUI - 1 (silver)
AUT - 1 (bronze)
NOR - 1 (bronze)