Maria Riesch looks to
the sky after landing her
second victory (the first
was in 2004) in Levi.
German slalom ace beats Lindsey Vonn by eight hundredths in Levi BY SHAUNA FARNELL
A lot of racers on the women’s World Cup circuit have loving remarks to
make about Levi, but the venue has cast a particularly glowing ray of light
on a few select athletes. Maria Riesch and Lindsey Vonn would make two of
those, especially after the events of Saturday, November 14.
“I know Lindsey is always attacking when she’s not in the lead,” Riesch said
after the race. “I knew I had to do the same. I had some gates going not so
perfect, but maybe that was my explosion for better gates after that.”
With her hometown fan club dancing and singing all the while, Finland’s
Tanja Poutiainen claimed the last step of the podium, though her time
(1: 49.87) was more than a second behind Riesch’s and Vonn’s.
In a very similar display to last year’s second run, Vonn tripped herself
up a few gates from the finish line but managed to stay on course for what
ended up being the fastest second run time all day, 54.65 seconds to Riesch’s
“I’m pretty thankful to be on the podium,” Vonn said. “I really love Levi.
This hill reminds me so much of racing back home in Buck Hill. It would
have been nice to get the win again but I had a big mistake at the bottom
and Maria had a really good run, so it’s hard to say if I would have beat her
without that mistake.”
Conditions were arctic on the Scandinavian hill, with poor visibility and
temperatures hovering around 15 degrees. Vonn said the moisture was
sticking to racers’ goggles, impeding visibility that much more, and though
the second run took place at 2 p.m., darkness was descending and the race
went on under the lights.
Clearly, Vonn’s intensive training on a private course on her home hill in
Vail paid off leading up to the race, and she returns to Vail for more training
Riesch, who has landed on the podium four of the five times she’s ever
raced at Levi — including her first World Cup slalom podium and back-to-back podiums followed by victory in 2004 — was the fastest lady on course
all day this year, winning the first run and then the race with a total time
of 1 minute, 48.71 seconds to notch her 12th World Cup victory, her sixth
in slalom. The German finished just 0.08 seconds ahead of Vonn, putting
America’s star a step down from where she ended up at the race last year
(which was her inaugural World Cup slalom victory).