Maria Riesch avenged her world championship woes with her fifth victory of the season in a super-combined on Friday to increase her World Cup lead over archrival Lindsey Vonn to 216 points.
Both women were in much better form than at the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, earlier this month from which the German, hampered by flu, only returned with two bronze medals, while the American had to settle for a silver.
Riesch was second behind her American friend and rival in the morning Super-G, while a consistent slalom run handed her victory in a combined time of 1 minute, 59.60 seconds, with Vonn having to settle for sixth place.
“I’m very happy with myself today because it was a long time since I last won a super-combined, but also my good Super-G run showed me I was heading in the right direction and hopefully set the tone for the weekend,” Riesch said.
Riesch added that racing from the front since the start of the season had weighed on her nerves and energy levels.
“I must admit that my immune system is not at its best, especially with the constant changes of temperatures we have been experiencing this winter,” she told reporters.
However, the German was still healthy enough to beat giant slalom world champion Tina Maze of Slovenia, second in exactly 2 minutes, and downhill and Super-G world queen Elisabeth Goergl, who was third a further 0.26 seconds behind.
By contrast, the discipline’s new world champion Anna Fenninger struggled on a slalom course which did not suit her aggressive style and the Austrian had to settle for ninth place.
Local favorite Anja Paerson only missed the podium by 0.02 seconds.
Another Super-G and a downhill are on the weekend menu in the Swedish resort and they should normally favor Vonn.
The three-time World Cup winner was relieved on Friday because her Super-G performance showed she was almost back to her very best in the speed events.
“My Super-G was really encouraging, but I’m pretty frustrated with my slalom,” Vonn said. “I’ve been training really well in slalom, but haven’t been able to put it together in a race. I had a hard time with the groove and lost my balance on a rut about 10 gates in and never really got my rhythm back.”