Germany’s Maria Riesch accomplished another impressive performance yesterday at Whistler Creek as she captured her second Olympic gold medal winning the slalom, the last women race of these 21st Olympics.
The 25-year-old Bavarian, the reigning World Champion in the event since Val d’Isère, clocked the fastest time in the opening leg in the morning and successfully defended her lead in the afternoon despite difficult weather and course conditions.
She finished ahead of Austria’s Marlies Schild, one of the best slalom skiers in the past years, while Sarka Zahrobska, from the Czech Republic came in 3rd. “I can believe it, this is amazing, I didn’t expect to ski so well in slalom here, it’s fantastic,” she said afterwards.
“I have not been skiing as strong in slalom this season as last winter, so my goal was just any medal in that specialty,” the skier from Garmisch-Partenkirchen added. "Luckily, my trainers didn't inform me that Susanne had skied out during her run. It would have bothered me. I met her at the finish line and she was so sad to have not come through properly. It would have been wonderful being on the podium with her. It was our dream."
“It has definitely been a tough race, especially this afternoon. When I was at the start, I heard the Austrian coaches loudly celebrating the lead of Marlies Schild, so I knew I had to attack and achieve a great run to eventually beat her. Since I already had a gold medal in my pocket, I really could go for it again. To beat all the best slalom specialists who have been focusing on this competition is quite special. I felt more comfortable in downhill coming here so to win that slalom is huge. It’s a very demanding specialty which requires great skills and perfect timing.”
“The course was rough in the lower part and I fought hard to hang in there. I often skied outside the best line but I managed to regain momentum when it mattered. I did exactly what I had to do to reach the podium and I’m so happy I could win it.”
“It’s amazing that our team could win three events here during these Olympics. Luck was definitely on our side here during these Games. These were my first ever Olympics and I’m more than excited with my results here. I struggled in the first race, the downhill, but I found back my best rhythm afterwards. Now I have to remain focused until the end of the season. I still have a good chance to clinch another slalom World Cup title and I stay in the hunt for the Overall World Cup. I guess it will not be easy to keep fully concentrated next week at Crans-Montana and then at the Finals at home at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I’ll of course do my best and we’ll see.”
The first slalom Olympic champion for Germany since the great days of Rosi Mittermaier in 1976 and Hilde Gerg in 1998, Maria is now following the glorious paths of Katja Seizinger, a two-time Olympic champion at Nagano in 1998 (downhill and combined) who also clinched gold in downhill at Lillehammer in 1994. Back in 1976, Rosi Mittermaier, racing for former 'West Germany' also clinched gold in downhill and finished 2nd in giant slalom behind Canada's Kathy Kreiner. That winter, she also captured the Overall World Cup title.
Next season, Maria will aim for more triumphs at the 2011 Worlds scheduled at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.