Canada's Marie-Michele Gagnon has notched a surprise World Cup victory in the women's super-combined, pipping favorite Maria Höfl-Riesch of Germany. Skier Gina Stechert, meanwhile, is set to miss the Sochi Games.
The double Olympic champion Höfl-Riesch was widely expected to win going into Sunday's event, but it was the 24-year-old Gagnon who came out on top. Her combined time of 2 minutes 5.55 seconds after one super-G and one slalom run was a 0.32 seconds faster than Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser and 0.39 seconds ahead of Höfl-Riesch.
It was Gagnon's first ever World Cup victory. Before Sunday, she had only reached the podium once - finishing third in Are, Sweden in March 2012 in the slalom. The Canadian was in 16th place after the super-G in the morning, but had a strong run in the slalom and capitalized on the mistakes of her favored competitors.
"It's amazing actually. I didn't expect that after the first round," said Gagnon. "I don't really have a goal, I just try to do my best and perform as best I can. It seems like the pieces of the puzzle are coming together now."
Although she'll be disappointed not to have won on Sunday, Höfl-Riesch's third place finish, her second in a row, was enough to put her back on top in the overall World Cup standings, with 731 points. She briefly lost the lead to Austria's Anna Fenninger after the downhill on Saturday.
"I'm really happy with two good results here, being on podium twice is nice," said Höfl-Riesch.
Stechert to miss Sochi
German skier Gina Stechert looks set to miss next month's Sochi Winter Olympics after rupturing the patellar tendon in her left knee during a race at the World Cup in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in Austria. The 26-year-old was taken to Munich for an operation and is not expected to be able to ski again for six months.
"That this serious injury happened before the Olympic Games take place is very, very upsetting," said Stechert, who represented Germany at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Stechert is no stranger to bad knee injuries. She twice tore her ACL in her right knee in 2005 and 2009, and suffered the same injury in her left knee in 2011.
"I have already experienced a few rehabilitations and know what will happen to me and what I have to do. My goal is to be fit again for the 2015 World Cup," she said.
Hirscher bests Neureuther
Marcel Hirscher of Austria won the slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland to take the overall World Cup lead. The two-time defending overall champion's combined two-run time of 1 minute, 49.75 seconds beat Sweden's Andre Myhrer by 0.29 seconds. Norwegian teenager Henrik Kristoffersen finished third, 0.66 seconds back.
German Felix Neureuther, who coming into Sunday was unbeaten in 2014, looked set to give Hirscher a run for his money until straddling a gate.
Hirscher's win, his fourth this season and 22nd total in the World Cup, gave him 675 points in the overall standings, just ahead of Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal (652).
Loch edges toward luge title
Germany's Felix Loch notched his fourth win of the World Cup season in the luge. His two-run time of 1 minute 26.957 seconds bested fellow countrymen Andi Langenhan (1:27.152) and Julian von Schleinitz (1:27.523).
Loch is now 130 points ahead in the overall standings with two races remaining. A second-place finish at Altenberg next weekend would secure him the title.
Latvians win in Bobsled, Skeleton
Oskars Melbardis drove his teammates to victory in the four-man bobsled race in St. Moritz, Swizterland. He and push athletes Daumants Dreiskens, Arvis Vilkaste and Janis Strenga finished their two runs in 2 minutes, 9.52 seconds.
Russian pilot Alexander Zubkov finished second, 0.23 seconds back, while Germany's Maximilian Arndt finished 0.45 seconds back in third place.
In the men's skeleton, Latvia's Martins Dukurs won his fourth World Cup race of the season. He finished with a total time of 2 minutes, 15.54 seconds, more than a second better than his brother Tomass Dukurs (2:16.63) and Canada's John Fairbairn (2:17.32). It was the third straight event where the Dukurs brothers finished first and second.
Svendsen, Soukalova triumph in biathlon
At the biathlon course in Ruhpolding, Germany, Norwegian Emil Hegle Svendsen won the 12.5 kilometer pursuit with a time of 32 minutes 38.2 seconds. His perfect shooting gave him his fourth World Cup win of the season and 35th of his career. He was 18 seconds faster than Slovenia's Jakov Fak, who also didn't record a miss, and 21.4 seconds ahead of Russian Evgeny Garanitchev, who had one miss.
The Czech Repulic's Gabriela Soukalova, meanwhile, won the women's 10 kilometer pursuit with a time of 39.8 seconds, beating out Tora Berger of Norway by 9.7 seconds and Finland's Kaisa Makarainen by 38.9 seconds. Soukalova now leads the women's standings with 526 points, 46 more than Makarainen and 51 more than Berger.
German duo win Nordic combined team sprint
Two separate German teams finished first and third at the Nordic combined World Cup team sprint in Chaux-Neuve, France. Tino Edelmann and Fabian Riessle finished the 2x7.5-kilometer cross-country race in 25 minutes 0.8 seconds. Norway's Miko Kokslien and Joergen Graaback narrowly missed out on victory, finishing just 0.4 seconds back. Johannes Rydzek and Eric Frenzel finished third, 2.1 seconds back.
Prevc earns ski flying victory
Slovenia's Peter Prevc got his first-ever World Cup win in ski flying at Bad Mitterndorf, Austria. He finished the day with 369 points on jumps of 186 and 198 meters. He beat Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria (366.9) and Japan's Noriaki Kasai (365.8), who just a day earlier became the oldest person to win a ski jump competition at age 41.
dr/kms (AP, dpa, AFP, SID)