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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Saturday, 19 March 2011

Maria Riesch pips Lindsey Vonn to World Cup title

Maria Riesch
Riesch took the title by the narrowest of margins

Germany's Maria Riesch won her first overall World Cup title on Saturday after the final race of the season was cancelled because of bad weather.

Riesch held a three-point lead over second-placed Lindsey Vonn going into the last race, the giant slalom, in Lenzherheide, Switzerland.

And an unraceable course ensured Riesch denied American Vonn a fourth title in a row, with Slovenia's Tina Maze third.

Vonn said the decision "doesn't just hurt me, it hurts fans and the sport."

But she congratulated Riesch adding: "She's had an outstanding season. She's worked really hard for this."

Another German, Viktoria Rebenbsurg, took the World Cup giant slalom crown.

Riesch had led the overall standings for most of the season, arriving at the Swiss resort with a 23-point advantage.

Olympic downhill champion Vonn, though, assumed a 27-point lead by placing fourth to Riesch's non-scoring 17th position in Wednesday's downhill.

However, days of rain, wet snow and warm weather forced the cancellation of Thursday's super-G - one of Vonn's strongest disciplines.

And when Riesch finished fourth, nine places ahead of Vonn, in Friday's slalom - which was won by Maze - the 26-year-old's 1,728-point total would prove enough to pip her rival.

Vonn, who two weeks ago clinched the downhill, super-G and super combined titles, won eight races to Riesch's six this season but her narrow misses in several other races proved crucial.

It was the smallest winning margin since Anja Paerson of Sweden beat Croatia's Janica Kostelic by three points in 2005.

"It was a really tight race," reflected Riesch, a runner-up in the previous two season. "At the end you need some luck as well and I had this luck."

A statement from the International Ski Federation (FIS) explained that races were not rescheduled if they fell victim to weather because "there are no reserve days to ensure that all cancelled races will be rescheduled".

The FIS statement continued: "Officials point out that it would be unfair to reschedule one race and not another."

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see also
Vonn takes ski title hat-trick
06 Mar 11 |  Winter Sports
Vonn & Janka win World Cup titles
12 Mar 10 |  Winter Sports
Vonn crash keeps World Cup open
11 Mar 10 |  Winter Sports
Victory gives Vonn downhill title
06 Mar 10 |  Winter Sports
Abandoned race hands Vonn title
05 Mar 10 |  Winter Sports
Flawless Vonn seals downhill gold
17 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing

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