Hoefl-Riesch wins second successive Olympic super combined gold

10 February 2014 13:36
Womens olympic super combined podium 2014
Womens olympic super combined podium 2014 -
Agence Zoom

KRASNAYA POLYANA - In winning her second successive Olympic super combined gold medal, Maria HOEFL-RIESCH (GER) confirmed her status as the most complete skier of her generation.

The 29-year-old has now won the past three major international super combined races, adding gold at Sochi 2014 to her Vancouver 2010 gold medal and her super combined world championship title in 2013. With a further Olympic gold medal in the slalom from the Vancouver 2010 Games and a slalom world championship gold in 2009, HOEFL-RIESCH undeniably sits at the summit of the alpine world.

Fifth after the downhill, in which she made several uncharacteristic mistakes on the icy upper section, HOEFL-RIESCH watched slalom specialist Nicole HOSP (SUI) put together a flawless run on a course that had cut up quickly as the temperatures rose.

Undettered by the two racers between her and HOSP skiing out, HOEFL-RIESCH made up for a slight blip on the steep top section to blitz the second half of the course.

The delight on her face as she saw her time on the big screen, 0.40 seconds ahead of HOSP, showed just how difficult to navigate the slalom course had become.

"I was just hoping for a green light after I finished because I knew the last starters weren't very good at slalom except for Tina MAZE (SLO)," said HOEFL-RIESCH.

The German knew what she was talking about. Lara GUT (SUI), second after the downhill, skied out, and Anna FENNINGER (AUT), fourth, made a major error on the upper section to finish eighth. 

In recent seasons MAZE is one of the few women to have come close to matching HOEFL-RIESCH's sustained excellence, winning four overall world cup titles in a stunning 2012/13 season. She was unable, however, to match the German's speed through the lower section and finished fourth.

Even Julia MANCUSO (USA), the Olympic specialist and leader of the downhill, could not match the brilliance of the German. Despite a world cup season in which she has failed to finish on the podium in a single race, MANCUSO attacked the slalom, her least favourite event, as though she believed gold was there for the taking. She finished 0.53 seconds shy to take the bronze.

"I didn't feel good, I knew it was a tough one. It is unbelievable. I was really hoping for a medal and it came through," she said.

HOEFL-RIESCH will enter the four other ladies alpine skiing events full of gold medal-inspired belief. At Vancouver 2010 she won another gold and had three top-10 finishes after her super combined gold medal.

"This feels like a fairy tale. My confidence was a bit knocked before I went down, especially because the downhill didn't go great this morning. This is really overwhelming. she said.