Mon, Jan 25, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Poutiainen, Neureuther notch up timely wins

REUTERS , CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, ITALY

Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen took her second World Cup giant slalom win of the season yesterday after favorite Kathrin Zettel skied out on the second run.

Poutiainen, who now has five World Cup giant slalom wins to her name as she bids for glory at next month’s Vancouver Olympics, had been second behind Zettel following the first leg.

Early mistakes on her second attempt down Cortina’s Olympia delle Tofane piste looked to have ended the Finn’s hopes of victory, but she produced a storming bottom section of the course.

A combined time of 2 minutes, 26.51 seconds put her 1.05 seconds ahead of second-placed German Viktoria Rebensburg, who won her first podium spot, as she waited for last year’s Cortina winner Zettel to come down last.

Zettel made a conservative start on the second run to lie slightly behind the Finn at the first intermediate, but when the Austrian began to push harder she ended up missing a gate.

“It was important to myself to know I’m back,” said Poutiainen, who has struggled with a back problem. “After the first run, I knew exactly how much I needed to fight to win. I had to attack from the start.”

Her other win of the season came in Soelden, Austria, in October.

Germany’s Kathrin Hoelzl took third to climb above Zettel to the top of the World Cup giant slalom standings.

Lindsey Vonn of the US, who has won all five downhills this season including Saturday’s race, stayed in command of the overall standings despite finishing 19th in one of her least favorite events.

Her main overall rival, Maria Riesch of Germany, ended up eighth after losing speed when she hit a gate too hard.

Switzerland’s Fraenzi Aufdenblatten crashed and was taken to hospital with a suspected cruciate ligament injury in her knee which is set to rule her out of the Vancouver Games.

■MEN’S SLALOM

AFP, KITZBUEHEL, AUSTRIA

Germany’s Felix Neureuther notched up a timely maiden World Cup victory ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics when he won the men’s slalom race yesterday.

Neureuther, who had clocked the third-fastest time in the first leg, timed a combined 1 minute, 37.35 seconds over the two runs.

The German finished 0.39 seconds ahead of Frenchman Julien Lizeroux, with Italian Giuliano Razzoli 0.99 seconds back in third.

The 25-year-old completed his victory under the watchful eyes of father Christian Neureuther, himself a winner of the slalom in Kitzbuehel in 1979, and mother Rosi Mittermaier, who won 1976 Olympic golds in the slalom and downhill, as well as a giant slalom silver.

Reinfried Herbst took a 0.45 second lead into the second leg, but the Austrian missed a gate and finished well down the field. Italian Manfred Moelgg, another early pace-setter, also crashed out.

It was, however, a good day for Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich, whose fourth-placed finish was enough to see him leapfrog Switzerland’s Carlo Janka to the top of the World Cup overall standings. Raich was also awarded the crystal globe as winner of the super-combined discipline, judged on the combined times of Saturday’s downhill and the two-leg slalom.

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