Alexa

Riesch wins slalom; Vonn leads World Cup

Riesch wins slalom; Vonn leads World Cup

Lindsey Vonn goes into 2009 leading the overall World Cup standings, but the American ski star lost her red bib for best slalom racer to close friend Maria Riesch of Germany.
Riesch won a night slalom Monday for her second victory of the season and eighth overall, while Vonn placed third to stay top of the overall standings with 530 points, 23 more than Riesch.
Defending overall champion Vonn was 1.18 seconds behind after the opening leg and clocked the second-fastest time in a solid final run to narrow the gap with Riesch to 0.72.
"I am happy for Maria but I am a bit disappointed about losing the red bib (for leading the slalom standings)," Vonn said. "I hope to get it back soon."
Riesch, who led after the first run, overcame a massive error in her second and finished in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 55.97 seconds.
Tanja Poutiainen of Finland came second, 0.21 behind Riesch.
Austria's Kathrin Zettel, who won Sunday's giant slalom, took fourth, 0.93 back.
On the steep part of the Panorama course, Riesch lost balance on one ski and came almost to a standstill, but her 0.53-seconds lead over Poutiainen from a flawless first run proved to be enough.
"Incredible, the slalom goes really perfect this season," said Riesch, who also won in La Molina, Spain two weeks ago and who overtook Vonn atop the discipline standings. Riesch has 300 points, Vonn 290.
"It's not much, 10 points," Riesch said. "I am going to get well prepared for the upcoming slaloms in Zagreb and Maribor."
The slalom discipline was dominated for the past two seasons by Austria's Marlies Schild, who is out for the season after breaking her left leg in training in October, but who was a spectator on Monday.
Poutiainen posted the fourth best time in the final leg.
"Semmering is a good place for me," said Poutiainen, who took second in 2004 and third in 2006. "I have been here so many times before and have always done well. Next time I will try to do even one better."
Slalom World champion Sarka Zahrobska of the Czech Republic took fifth, 1.09 behind Riesch, while 2006 Olympic slalom champion Anja Paerson of Sweden finished 14th after a disappointing second run, 3.29 behind.
Hailey Duke of the United States finished eighth for her best ever World Cup result.
"I love night races, that's the time when I wake up. Mornings are no good for me," Duke said. "I keep working on my skiing technically and tactically and there is still a lot of room for improvement."
Julia Mancuso, who missed a lot of training in the fall due to a sore back, finished 16th.
"I am excited, things are getting better," Mancuso said. "I wanted to make two decent slalom runs and I got them, so I am happy. I still need a bit more training, I guess, to get really back to my best."
The women's World Cup circuit continues with a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia on Jan. 4.