Wins super-combined but says medals are not her motivation
Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch closed in on Janica Kostelic’s record of four Olympic golds with a thrilling victory in the women’s super-combined yesterday.
Hoefl-Riesch became the fourth woman to win two consecutive gold medals in a specific event, joining Italian Deborah Compagnoni, German Katja Seizinger and the Croat Kostelic.
But the 29-year-old German insisted that records were not her driving motivation after clocking a winning combined time of 2 minutes, 34.62 seconds after one downhill and one slalom run.
“I don’t think so much about statistics and rankings. But of course if that happens, it’s a great feeling,” said the Garmisch-Partenkirchen native, who was also crowned world champion in the discipline last year.
“But when I win a medal like today, I’m just focused on this medal and this day.
“It’s not my big motivation. My motivation is to do my best every single day and make the best out of my possibilities.”
Hoefl-Riesch’s modesty aside, she is sure to be remembered as one of the best all-around skiers alpine skiing has ever seen race.
She acknowledged that it was tricky to keep the balance across all five disciplines on the circuit: the two speed events of the downhill and super-G, the two technical events of slalom and giant slalom, and the super-combined.
“This is the big challenge to be an all-around skier: to manage switching between the disciplines, getting enough training for every event and also getting enough regeneration,” Hoefl-Riesch said.
“This season, it has worked pretty good so far, not all the time, but 90 per cent.”
Hoefl-Riesch, whose towering, build often dwarfs her rivals, said that her super-combined gold was “one of the most emotional”.
“Of course Vancouver very emotional and big for me, with two gold medals, especially winning the slalom there when conditions were really tough,” she said.
“But also today because everyone was expecting it. The pressure was really high. I tried to keep cool and easy. You can say that, but it’s not always possible.
“Expectations were really high for today, I was the favourite, so it’s not so easy to do the things right.
“I’d been having some problems on the downhill in training. It was better this morning, but not so good, and I saw the slalom slope and thought, ‘OK, this is going to be a big challenge’.
“It was very steep, but it held up OK in the warm temperatures.
“I didn’t have a good feeling coming down, but when I saw the [leader’s] green light, I thought it might be a medal. When I realised it was enough for gold, it’s amazing.”
Hoefl-Riesch had a 1.04-second deficit to make up on Julia Mancuso, who won the morning downhill and went on to claim bronze behind Austrian Nicole Hosp, who previously won slalom silver at the 2006 Turin Games.
Slovenia’s world super-combined silver medallist Tina Maze finished fourth as other favourites Lara Gut of Switzerland and Austrian Elisabeth Goergl skied out in a dramatic finale.
Hosp said it had been a battle “from the start to the end in the slalom”.
“It was very tough because we know Julia can ski very well at the Olympics. It was a hard fight,” the Austrian said.
Mancuso’s bronze was her fourth Olympic medal after a previous gold and two silvers.