Road To The Olympic Games


Maria Hoefl-Riesch extends World Cup ski lead with downhill win

Overall World Cup leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch won a shortened downhill Friday to take full command of the discipline ranks.

Canada's Larisa Yurkiw doesn't finish, won't compete this weekend

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch celebrates at the finish area in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy on Friday. (Armando Trovati/Associated Press)

Overall World Cup leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch won a shortened downhill Friday to take full command of the discipline ranks.

Hoefl-Riesch also established herself as the favourite to take the title in the women's downhill at the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 12.

" ... Of course I would love to win the Olympic downhill," Hoefl-Riesch said. "That's the biggest race in skiing."

With her parents and husband in attendance, the German won in one minute, 17.84 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course for the 27th World Cup victory of her career.

Afterward, Hoefl-Riesch said that she tweaked her left knee while landing a jump and that she felt some pain but was not overly concerned.

"I knew that I had to attack a lot with a shortened course and that it would be very tight," Hoefl-Riesch said. "It was really flat light and tricky in a few turns where some girls had big problems. But not me."

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein finished second, 0.31 seconds behind, and Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria was third with the No. 39 bib, 0.75 behind.

Lara Gut of Switzerland was fourth and Stacey Cook of the United States was fifth as the pair missed out on the podium by 0.01 and 0.03 seconds, respectively.

It was the best result this season for Cook, who finished second in two downhills in Lake Louise, Alberta, last season.

The victory gave Hoefl-Riesch an 85-point lead over Weirather in the downhill standings after six of eight races, with wins worth 100 points each.

In the overall standings, Hoefl-Riesch leads Weirather by 158 points.

Canada's top downhill skier, Larisa Yurkiw of Owen Sound, Ont., did not finish the run. Julia Roth of Waterloo, Ont., was 44th.

Yurkiw later said through her Instragram account that she's been battling a cold in recent days, and will not race again before Sochi.

Due to overnight snow and difficulty preparing the course, the start was delayed for half an hour and the course was shortened slightly — chopping off about 20 seconds of racing.

With softer snow and flat light, it was a sharp change in conditions from Wednesday's only training run, which was held under bright sunshine.

Conditions improved for later starters as a tailwind moved in. The wind helped Schmidhofer, whose only other podium finish also came in Cortina, having finished second in a super-G last year.

Elisabeth Goergl, the Austrian who won a super-G on Thursday, lost control after hitting a gate and slammed into the safety padding at full speed. But she got right back up, skied down and said she was not injured.

Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday, followed by a second super-G on Sunday to round out a series of four races in four days.

Two of the races were originally scheduled for last weekend in Cortina but were wiped out due to heavy snowfall. The other two were moved from Hoefl-Riesch's hometown of Garmisch-Partenkirchen due to a lack of snow in the German resort.

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