Rebensburg wins World Cup in Spindl, takes lead in GS standings

11 March 2011 10:54

SPINDLERUV MLYN, Czech Republic – Viktoria Rebensburg not only held onto her first-run lead in the World Cup giant slalom race in Spindleruv Mlyn on Friday, but proceeded to clean house in the second run, winning the race by well over a second.

The 21-year-old German is now leading the World Cup giant slalom standings, landing the victory with a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 15.22 seconds. She finished 1.26 seconds ahead of Denise Karbon, who, after two years riddled with knee injury, took second Friday for her first podium since Soelden 2009. Lindsey Vonn had the best giant slalom race of her World Cup career, landing on the podium for the first time in the discipline. She finished third, 1.45 seconds out.

The sky was overcast and a light rain fell during the first run in the northern Czech mountains on Friday. The rain subsided for the completion of the race, and the snow on the course held up allowing Rebensburg, the 30th racer down the second run, to be the fastest lady on the track all day.

“I’m really happy with my race today,” Rebensburg said, adding that the victory makes up for her disappointing fifth-place finish in the home world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. “I had a good feeling in the second run but I didn’t know if it was enough. I heard the others had a good run. I tried to push hard. I just saw that I had the fastest second run, too, so in the end it was pretty good.”

The Olympic GS champion now takes the lead in the giant slalom standings with 435 points. Coming into Friday’s race, France’s Tessa Worley was leading, but after missing a gate in the first run, she falls behind with 358 points and just one GS remaining at World Cup finals next week in Lenzerheide.

“There is one more race and anything can happen,” Rebensburg said. “I will try to do my work and just focus on the race. I’m not looking at rankings or points. I just want to ski good. I’m so happy now. I’m looking forward to Lenzerheide.”

Worley is also planning on putting the pedal to the metal at the final race. She was frustrated with her mistake Friday, saying she felt good at the top of the course but missed a gate when her skis went too straight.

“My skis just didn’t go where I wanted them to go. Sometimes it happens. It’s really too bad it’s happening to me right now,” said Worley, who, like Rebensburg, has won three World Cup GS races this season but also won the world champs bronze medal. “Mathematically, it’s everything or nothing at the last race for me. I’m just going to fight very, very hard.”

Karbon was thrilled to be back on the podium after battling injuries for several seasons including two years of problems with her right knee. Last season she injured her knee in Aspen and had minor surgery, missing several weeks of racing and she re-injured it in November of this season, sidelining herself until the GS race in Semmering, where she finished 20th. Before world championships, she was 14th in Arber-Zwiesel, but then hit her stride again in Garmisch, barely missing a medal in fourth. While she said the humid weather sparked some pain in her knee on Friday, finishing on the podium reminds her that learning to ski with her heart has paid off.

“For sure my knee is hurting a little bit, but I’ve learned to live with this and ski with this and not let it go into my head,” said the 30-year-old Italian who won the previous World Cup GS in Spindleruv Mlyn in 2008. “I did a lot of training and not so many races this season. I knew now was the time to go, to show this. I’m happy this season I learned to ski with the heart and not just the head. Skiing is my great passion. Results like this, it’s so many emotions, so many good feelings … you forget a lot of hard things.”

Vonn was sporting a black eye Friday following a crash while slalom training in Hinterreit, Austria, on Wednesday, and joked that maybe it is the secret lucky ingredient to success in giant slalom. Her previous best GS result was a fourth place in Aspen in 2008, but she struggled in the discipline last season, DNFing in most races. This season she has turned a new leaf in the discipline.

“It feels amazing. It couldn’t have been better timing. I tried to ski the best I could in both runs. It was the first time I had two clean runs from top to bottom. I couldn’t be happier,” Vonn said, adding that in spite of the warm temperatures and rain, course conditions held up quite well. “It was actually really good. Second run it broke up a little bit, but for the warm temps and the rain, it was a really good course. I really liked the course and the conditions.”

Maria Riesch had an unlucky race, losing control midway through the second run and nearly missing a gate. She had to hike for a valid result and finished last. The German still leads the overall World Cup standings with 1678 points, but now Vonn only trails by 38, with 1640.

“Maria’s going to be hard to catch in slalom but I’m going to try to stay as close to her as possible,” Vonn said. “Sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you have a bad day. I didn’t see her race. I’m sure she’s disappointed, but she’s going to be charging tomorrow. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I feel really good on my skis right now, relaxed and like I have nothing to lose. My eye is fine. It doesn’t affect my skiing … it just looks ugly.”

World GS champion Tina Maze finished just a hair off of the podium in fourth on Friday, 1.50 seconds back. Silver GS medalist Federica Brignone, who was in second after the first run, had some slippery turns in run No. 2 and fell to fifth, 1.52 seconds back. Julia Mancuso, who just celebrated her 27th birthday earlier this week, was sixth, 1.81 seconds out. World downhill and super G champion Elisabeth Goergl ended up seventh, 1.91 seconds back and world slalom champion Marlies Schild put down her best World Cup GS result all season in eighth, 2.01 seconds back. Italian Manuela Moelgg, who had the third-fastest first-run time, also struggled in the second run and finished ninth, 2.14 seconds back. Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser had her best GS result of the season in 10th, 2.38 seconds out.

Czech racer Katerina Paulathova, 17, drew the loudest cheers from the home crowd on Friday, earning her first ever World points with a 28th-place finish after starting No. 47.

Racing continues in Spindl on Saturday with slalom. First run at 10 a.m., second at 1 p.m.

Check out this video with Rebensburg, Karbon and Vonn.

Click here for full results of Friday's GS. Stay tuned for video.

by Shauna Farnell/farnell@fisski.com