At Flachau (AUT) the Riesch sisters almost repeated the remarkable performance that only a few siblings prior them were able to achieve in past decades in alpine ski racing – finish both ahead in a World Cup race!
22-year-old Susanne Riesch, twice 3rd in recent weeks in slalom, clocked the fastest time in the first run ahead of her older sister and seemed ready to celebrate her very first triumph in a major race. Yet she failed to end her second run as she straddled a gate in the upper part of the course.
Maria remained 2nd at the end of her final run as Austria’s Marlies Schild beat her by a few hundredths. The reigning slalom World Champion was not too happy with her performance and also sorry about her sister’s problem.
“We both had such an advance after the first run that we strongly hoped that one of us could win that competition,” she told reporters after the race. “I made a mistake in the upper part of that second run which cost me too much time. I still don’t feel as relaxed and confidence as last winter. It’s just too bad that Susanne made that mistake after me, it would have been so nice to be again together on the podium this night.” At Åre (SWE) Maria was 2nd and Suzanne 3rd in the slalom captured by France’s Sandrine Aubert.
Nevertheless the evening at Flachau was not too negative for the German HEAD champion who regained the lead in the slalom standings as Zagreb’s Slalom Queen Aubert missed a gate in the end of her first run. Maria also made up 80 points on her friend Lindsey Vonn in the Overall standings.
Vonn, aiming for a fourth consecutive win at Flachau after her brilliant hat-trick at Haus im Ennstal in downhill and Super-G, also straddled a gate in the opening run like Sweden’s Anja Pärson. Pärson felt much pain at a knee after her crash and was transported to the nearest hospital for further examination.
Maria Riesch reached her first slalom podium in the New Year after finishing 4th at Zagreb two weeks ago. The ‘Hermann Maier’ run on which this first night slalom at Flachau was set, perfectly suited her powerful yet precise technique which allowed her to win four consecutive slalom World Cup races last season. She was not surprised to see Susanne skiing that fast in the first leg.
“I tried hard but Susanne was clearly the best of us this afternoon. It’s not a surprise, she has often been faster than me in training and I’m glad she was able to fully confirm her potential,” she said after the first run. “It’s tough for her but hopefully she will soon get another chance.”
Two more technical events are scheduled in the coming weekend at Maribor, in Slovenia, where a giant slalom and a slalom are planned on the classical ‘Pohorje’ slope which hosts the World Cup tour each year since the early 1970’s.