Tue, January 13, 2009
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Unstoppable Riesch nails 4th slalom

2009-01-13 05:33:34 GMT2009-01-13 13:33:34 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Maria Riesch of Germany reacts at the finish line after her second run of the women's Alpine skiing World Cup slalom in Maribor, January 11, 2009.[Agencies]

Winner Maria Riesch of Germany celebrates on the podium for the women's alpine skiing World Cup slalom race in Maribor, January 11, 2009. [Agencies]

Winner Maria Riesch of Germany (C), second placed Katrin Zettel of Austria (L) and third placed Tanja Poutiainen of Finland celebrate on the podium after the women's alpine skiing World Cup slalom race in Maribor, January 11, 2009. [Agencies]

Maria Riesch of Germany passes a pole during the women's alpine skiing World Cup slalom race in Maribor, January 11, 2009. [Agencies]

MARIBOR -- Germany's Maria Riesch destroyed her rivals to win a fourth successive slalom and strengthen her lead in the overall World Cup standings on Sunday.

The race in Maribor was almost over after the first leg when Riesch left her nearest rival, Austria's Kathrin Zettel, trailing by 1.29 seconds.

Riesch only had to play it safe in the afternoon run to secure a new victory, the 10th of her career and fourth in a row after wins in La Molina, Semmering and Zagreb.

She eventually beat Zettel by 1.15, while Finn Tanja Poutiainen, already third in the morning, kept her place on the podium 1.77 behind the German World Cup leader.

"To have such a big margin after the first leg is not always easy to handle. I was a little bit afraid but everything clicked into place as soon as I started. I just tried to ski clean," said Riesch.

Now ideally placed to win the slalom crystal globe, Riesch also leads the World Cup overall standings on 729 points, ahead of Poutiainen on 644.

Overall World Cup holder Lindsey Vonn limited the damage by finishing fourth, level with Swede Anja Paerson.

It was an uphill battle for the American, who was only 18th after the first run but made it close to the podium thanks to a fantastic afternoon leg.

Vonn will be back on familiar terrain next weekend in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee when the Austrian resort hosts a super-combined and her favorite event, a downhill.

"I'm looking forward to the speed events. It'll be intriguing to see how it goes having not skied a downhill for so long," said Riesch.

Two downhills have been called off since Dec 5, when Vonn won in Lake Louise.

Big day for Herbst

In Adelboden, Switzerland, Austria's Reinfried Herbst won the men's World Cup slalom race on Sunday, seeing off compatriot Manfred Pranger and Germany's Felix Neureuther.

Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, who finished ninth, retains the lead in the discipline while Austrian Benjamin Raich, 11th on the day, remains atop the overall World Cup standings.

Herbst, 30, won in 1minute and 42.95 seconds to edge Pranger by 0.18 seconds and Neureuther by 0.32 seconds.

Raich had seemed poised for glory after he stood second following the opening run but fell away on the second race while Grange was unable to find the form which brought earlier successes at Levi in Finland and Zagreb.

"I've been waiting for this result since the start of the season," said Herbst, who took Olympic silver at the 2006 Turin Games behind Raich.

"I was feeling good during previous slaloms but I also had some little problems. I've worked a lot this summer and took part in European Cup races to find my best form.

"I really nailed the final part of the course, the wall."

Herbst, who scored slalom wins last season at Bormio and Garmisch-Partenkirchen following a maiden career success at Chigakogen in Japan three years ago, added that he had learnt the lesson of perserverance.

"Over the last few years, I've been spared physical problems, unlike at the start of my career. That taught me patience.

"I don't know now whether I'll train two days at the house or take part in a European Cup event before the Wengen slalom (on Sunday)."

Second-placed Pranger, who underwent a serious knee operation last season, was delighted with his podium finish.

"It's been four years since I've been up there - my victory in Schladming," he said. "Finally today I was capable of producing the skiing I'm capable of in training.

"I had a really great first run but I made some mistakes on the second towards the end."

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