Double Olympic winner Maria Hoefl-Riesch shrugged off a hip injury to clinch the first women's slalom race of the alpine skiing World Cup season with a commanding victory Saturday in Levi, Finland.
The 27-year-old German was 0.55 seconds clear of local favorite Tanja Poutiainen after the two slalom legs for her 24th World Cup race victory. Hoefl-Riesch showed no ill effects from a hip injury which had restricted training, clocking a winning time of 1 minute 55.58 seconds thanks to a storming second leg, overtaking first-leg pace-setter Poutiainen.
Seventeen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States was third, 0.74 behind Hoefl-Riesch. Last season's overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn opted not to race.
"That's amazing. I knew this is a good hill for me but you start every race from zero," said Hoefl-Riesch, who has now won three times at Levi. "It's fantastic to start the (slalom ) season with a win." The injury proved also proved no hurdle in the end for Hoefl-Riesch after some worries during the week.
"The last few days I could train without pain. After taking a short break it did not bother me," she said. Slovenia's Tina Maze, who won the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria on October 27, the first race of the season, was fourth to stay top of the overall standings on 150 points, with Hoefl-Riesch moving to 124 and Poutiainen on 91.
A men's World Cup slalom is scheduled in Levi today.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now