Riesch wins women's World Cup

Riesch wins women's World Cup
By Reuters

20/03/2011 at 02:58Updated 20/03/2011 at 13:13

Germany's Maria Riesch won the overall women's World Cup, denying Lindsey Vonn a fourth successive title, when the final race of the season was cancelled due to bad weather in Lenzerheide.

Riesch won her first overall crown by a slender three points when the giant slalom was called off, finally dethroning her American rival after several years of trying.

It was an anti-climatic and somewhat embarrassing end to what should have been the most dramatic finale to the season in years and may put pressure on the International Ski Federation to change their cancellation rules.

Races are not rescheduled if they are called off by the weather and the FIS packed four women's and men's races plus a one-day team event into five days of hectic skiing at Lenzerheide.

"I feel so sorry for Lindsey," US head coach Alex Hoedelmoser said. "Just to call it off in the morning wasn't the right way to go.

"We should have tried everything possible to get this race on. This is a tough day for Lindsey and the sport of ski racing."

Vonn, reportedly too upset to hold a press conference, said in a statement: "Win or lose I just wanted the chance.

"I feel devastated. But I'm extremely proud to have been in the fight in what was one of the most exciting seasons in ski racing history."

The third German to win the overall title after Katja Seizinger and Rosi Mittermaier, Riesch finished runner-up behind the American the previous two years.

The cancellation also handed the giant slalom World Cup to Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, the Olympic champion in the discipline.

"To win by three points obviously needs a bit of luck, you can't say that one is better than the other," said Riesch after winning by 1,728 points to 1,725.

Tina Maze of Slovenia was way back in third with 1,139 points.

"You have to fight from the start to the finish for every point and that is what I have done," added Riesch.

"Of course I'm very happy, obviously it's bad luck for the spectators today. I can appreciate it's a very bitter moment for Lindsey."

The end-of-season meeting in Lenzerheide saw Thursday's super-G race cancelled, which also upset Vonn who sees that discipline as one of her strongest.

Vonn said on Friday the FIS should review their guidelines and allow races in the final week of the season to be rescheduled in the event of bad weather.

The FIS, though, reaffirmed its policy.

"Cancelled races at World Cup finals will not be rescheduled," it said in a statement.

"This is because in a case such as that in Lenzerheide, in which weather conditions force the cancellation of more than one race, there are no reserve days to ensure all cancelled races will be rescheduled.

"Officials point out it would be unfair to reschedule one race and not another."

Race director Atle Skaardal said: "There is a crust on top of the snow and nothing underneath. It's impossible to ski on such a soft crust. The situation is not ski-able for a giant slalom race."

Riesch, whose nerves appeared to fray in the last few weeks, led the standings for most of the season, going more than 200 points clear in February, until Vonn clawed her way back and snatched the lead by beating her in Wednesday's downhill.

Thursday's super-G cancellation denied Vonn a chance to extend her lead.

Riesch then took it back on Friday by finishing ahead of Vonn in the slalom, the American's weakest event.

Vonn won eight races to Riesch's six this season but narrowly missed out by tiny margins in several others, including the super-G at Are last month when the German beat her by 1/100th of a second.