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Germany's Maria Riesch clinches women's slalom title

Maria Riesch skied a blistering second run to win the women's slalom here and give Germany a second gold medal in the World Ski Championships. Czech Sarka Zahrobska took silver, Tanja Poutiainen of Finland came third.


REUTERS - Maria Riesch produced a fantastic second run to win the women's slalom and hand Germany their second gold medal at the alpine skiing world championships on Saturday.


Riesch, in sixth position after the first run, posted the best time in the second to clock a combined winning time of one minute 51.80 seconds and match the success of compatriot Kathrin Hoelzl, the winner of the women's giant slalom here on Thursday.


The 24-year-old Riesch signed off in style after missing out on a medal in her previous four events and suffering bruises in a downhill training crash last week.

"After the second run I just didn't think it was possible," all-rounder Riesch said after winning her first major title.


"This is just amazing after all I've been through here. Everybody believed I could do it but me. The championships had been so tough for me and I was a bit discouraged."


Czech Sarka Zahrobska, the title holder, made the most in the second run of a course set by her father and coach, Petr, to win the silver medal 0.77 second back.


Tanja Poutiainen of Finland came third 1.09 seconds behind the winner, to collect her second bronze after winning one in the giant slalom.


Italy's Manuela Moelgg and American Lindsey Vonn, who had clocked the first and second fastest times respectively in the first run, both skied out in the second.


Vonn, grabbing her ski pole with her bandaged right thumb in a splint, was only 0.24 second back after the first run and still in contention for a third gold medal after winning the super-G and downhill here.


The 24-year-old, who needed surgery to repair a damaged tendon after cutting her thumb on a champagne bottle while celebrating her downhill triumph on Monday, lost her balance and crashed on the upper part of the course in the second run.


"It was a bit of a gamble," Vonn said. "I gave it everything I had because my goal was certainly not to finish 20th in the slalom. It didn't work out."


Vonn, who is Riesch's closest friend on the circuit and leads the overall World Cup standings from the German, can still look back proudly at her campaign in the French Alps resort.


"I'm glad for Maria and I would have loved to be on the podium with her," Vonn said.


"I won two gold medals and I fought until the very end," she added. "The thumb is painful. We'll have to see how we handle this for the rest of the season."


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