Maria Riesch had to fight hard until the last gate of the last slalom run to successfully defend her slalom World Cup title at Garmisch-Partenkirchen while Austria’s Marlies Schild celebrated her third season win thanks blistering performances in both legs.
The 25-year-old German who started that last season race with a lead of only 23 points on Kathrin Zettel, the last winner at Maribor, felt great pressure as Zettel found back most of her winning form today to strongly challenge the Olympic champion on the steep and treacherous Gudiberg course.
6th in the morning run with a delay on 12/100 of a second on Riesch, Zettel took all risks in the early afternoon to establish a new best time out of reach for her next rivals, including Maria Riesch who lost 70/100 on her after her second run. Only Schild could ski a little faster than her teammate.
Fortunately for her, no other racer skied between both favorites, allowing Riesch to keep a small margin of three points in the final slalom standings. “I have been struggling today, I did not find back my confidence and my form from the Olympics, I’m really lucky I could make it here,” the skier from Garmisch-Partenkirchen said afterwards. “My level of energy was much lower today and I could not fully attack as in Canada,” she also explained. “It was really tough and I’m so happy I could do it again. Before the race, I told myself that I had already accomplished great performances during this season, including here where I excelled in all the past three races.”
A long season for Maria Riesch.
“It has been a long season for me, it’s quite demanding to compete in all the races. To win once more this crystal globe is definitely special. Our team did really well this winter. I’m looking forward for the World Championships here.”
With more than a dozen of podium finishes this winter including her three wins, Maria Riesch achieved once again a great World Cup season, ‘only’ 155 points behind her good friend Lindsey Vonn. “It’s very encouraging to see that I kept on improving in the past three years and I’m quite excited about my capacity to reach the podium in all specialties including in giant slalom. For sure I aim to clinch the big cup in the coming years, it would mean a lot to me.”
Winter is not totally over for Maria Riesch as she plans to train a few days on the downhill course during the coming weeks. “The conditions are really good right now and it makes sense to test the course a little more,” she explained. “But I’ll soon take a break and enjoy a few days off somewhere far from here – in a sunny and warm place,” she added with a smile.