Germany's Maria Höfl-Riesch has won the Women's World Cup Downhill skiing race at Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy. The victory means the 29-year-old extends her lead in the overall standings, boosting Winter Olympic hopes.
World Cup leader Maria Höfl-Riesch was able to widen the gap at the top of the rankings on Friday, recording her third downhill win of the season.
Although the German did not make here fastest ever start to the race, she was still able to win with a convincing time difference.
"I'm just so happy," the skier told the television channel ZDF. "It's difficult when you always have to push yourself to the limit because of the strong competition. I noticed that the race was very close and had to risk everything. That's what I tried to do and it worked. I hope my form continues."
Fresh snow overnight at Cortina d'Ampezzo meant the start of the race had to be delayed by some 30 minutes. It also meant the course had to be shortened.
Höfl-Riesch finished with 1 minute 17.84 seconds on the clock, 31 hundredths of a second faster than second-place Tina Weirather, of Liechtenstein. Austria's Nicole Schmidhofer finished in third place, a further 44 hundredths of a second behind.
Höfl-Riesch won the World Cup in 2011 and, having achieved her 27th career win, now leads the current rankings on 961 points. She came second the previous day in a World Cup super-G competition and, with US star Lindsey Vonn absent due to a groin injury, is a likely favorite to win gold in the speed disciplines at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
2010 gold medallist Höfl-Reisch joins 150 other German athletes taking part in the Sochi games, the team names having been announced by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) on Thursday.
rc/hc (AP, AFP, Reuters)