"This was a perfect weekend for me – two podiums here, expectations exceeded," said the double olympic champion after her first podium finishes in speed events this season.
A week ago, during her first world cup break since the 2005/06 season, she was still sick in bed and had longingly watched the races in bad kleinkirchheim only on TV. Now the 27-year-old skier made an impressive comeback in cortina d’ampezzo against the imposing backdrop of the dolomites.
"The result was already surprising after the prehistory. Nobody had calculated that she would finish second and third," admitted alpine director wolfgang maier. "This was a very good weekend for maria. The others have partly remained clearly behind the expectations."Viktoria rebensburg and veronique hronek were eliminated in the super g by lindsey vonn (USA). In the downhill race won by the premiere winner daniela merighetti (italy), they finished 13th and 40th respectively. Vonn, meanwhile, drew level with austria’s renate gotschl (17 victories) after super-G victories and edged out katja seizinger by one win – further consolidating her comfortable lead in the overall standings.
Before the technical races in kranjska gora next weekend, vonn leads the overall world cup with 884 points, clearly ahead of tina maze with 593 points, who finished third on sunday. Hofl-riesch (466) moved up to sixth place and passed teammate viktoria rebensburg (356) on the weekend.
Once again hofl-riesch showed the already often praised comeback qualities. Whether at the world championships, the olympics or in the world cup – she had repeatedly hit the mark even when many had not expected it. So it was in the 1956 olympics, where she had traveled in poor health. "You have to be able to cope with small crises after rough ones, that’s perhaps quite normal," said the partenkirchen native, "maybe it only makes you stronger in the end if you can get out of them again. I think i succeeded with the weekend and now i’m trying to continue the trend in the technical disciplines as well."
Hofl-riesch had to wait a long time for the stockerlrange in the fast disciplines, in this winter it had gone so far twice in the slalom into the top three. In downhill, five races had passed since february 2011, in super-G three since march. And the last time the 20-time world cup winner had two podium finishes in one weekend was ten months ago.
Once again cortina presented itself as a special place for hofl-riesch just before the halay point of the season. In the previous year the victory had jumped out in the downhill, in a super-G rank two. However, there are also bad memories of the pista olimpia delle tofane, because seven years ago she suffered there her first of two cruciate ligament tears. "But cortina can’t do anything about it," she had not wanted to complain.