Maria Riesch of Germany has won her second gold medal of these Winter Olympics. Today, the German superstar took gold in the women’s slalom, the last alpine event for the women at these Winter Olympics.
American Sarah Schleper almost did it. She went up a full second after the first split, then the course finally bit back. Schleper took an all-out approach and her skiing was super inspiring. It worked well for her on the first run, as the Vail native came from the 26th starting position to finish 9th. On the second run, with even more snow falling, and the non-existent ability to see ruts, Schleper began losing her rhythm half-way down the course. By the time she reached the bottom third, two near misses kept her in the course, but killed any chance of a medal finish. Still, it was a great display of competitive skiing by Sarah Schleper.
Taking advantage of an early second run starting position (10th), Elisabeth Goergl held on to the top spot for an amazing 14 racers. France’s Sandrine Aubert, a slalom specialist with four World Cup wins, finally bested Goergl by a half-second.
Aubert’s lead was short lived, as two racers later, Mariea Pietilae-Holmner overcame some big mistake and remained fast on her skis. Pietilae-Holmner went up on Aubert by 0.24 seconds.
It was then up to the top three from the first run to take their shot at Pietilae-Holmner. Marlies Schild of Austria skied a powerful, dominating run. To ski the way she did on a rutted course was most impressive. Schild exhibited superior athletic ability and went up by nearly a second over Pietilae-Holmner.
Sarka Zahrobska simply got tossed around too much. She did survive and kept herself on the podium, 0.58 seconds back of Schild.
Maria Riesch skied a smart, sometimes conservative, but always fast second run. She overcame brutal conditions, and showed she belongs on the same pedestal as Lindsey Vonn. Her feet danced lightly and powerfully through the ruts, never throwing her far off line. The ability to continue to attack on a destroyed course is something a limited few can accomplish. It’s Riesch’s second gold medal of these Winter Olympics, the other coming in the combined.
The silver medal goes to Marlies Schild of Austria, and Sarka Zahrobska takes the bronze for Czechoslovakia.