Riesch shrugs off pressure

Tue, 08 Feb 01:04:00 2011

Maria Riesch, competing in her home town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, faces the first of five attempts to win a world championship gold medal with her great rival Lindsey Vonn still uncertain whether she will race.

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Riesch, repeatedly foiled by Vonn in her attempts to win skiing's World Cup, has shrugged off the pressure of racing in front of her own fans as she attempt to turn the tables on the American, who has generally had the upper hand in the battles between the pair.

"I feel like just another competitor," said Riesch, who won a world championship gold in the slalom two years ago.

"I've got five chances to win a medal and the setting is perfect. I'm not under any pressure to win a medal in the first race."

Vonn suffered mild concussion in a training last week and said that she will wait until Tuesday's warm-up before deciding whether to race.

Vonn, who has won the World Cup for the last three seasons while Riesch has finished as her runner-up twice, said that the injury is taking away her focus and concentration.

The two rivals have disagreed over Tuesday's course, with Vonn describing it as icy and dangerous and Riesch saying it is challenging.

"Basically, I'm shocked," said Vonn.

Riesch, who this year leads the World Cup ahead of second-placed Vonn, retorted: "I'm happy with it, it's a challenging course and I like it when it's icy, I have a better grip."

Race director Atle Skaardal said unseasonable weather, with warm sunshine melting the snow during the day before it freezes again at night, had made the course situation unavoidable.


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