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Rebensburg masters 'hell' to win women's downhill in Garmisch

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) (AFP)

Viktoria Rebensburg put her training woes behind her to complete the downhill sweep for Germany in Garmisch-Partenkirchenon Saturday with victory in the women's World Cup race - a week after Thomas Dressen won the men's title.

"Wow, I couldn't have dreamed of that," beamed Rebensburg.

In near-perfect conditions, Rebensburg claimed the first downhill victory of her career in 1min 41.94secs, mastering the tricky, icy mid-section of the course, dubbed 'hell'.

Italy's Federica Brignone was second at 0.61sec with Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic third at 0.83 behind Rebensburg, the 2010 Olympic champion in the giant slalom.

"That was crazy," said Rebensburg, who had a falling out with Germany's head coach Wolfgang Maier over the volume and intensity of her training in the build-up.

"It was important for me to just stay true to myself and focus on my skiing.

"Things went well in training and of course it was very important to race well at home," added Rebensburg, who hails from the nearby town of Kreuth in the Bavarian Alps.

The 30-year-old said Friday's training run gave her ideas how to pick up speed on the "Eishang" (Ice slope) and "Hell" parts of the course, "which gave me momentum for the final section".

After her compatriot Dressen claimed downhill victory in the men's race seven days ago on the tricky Kandahar course, this is the first time two Germans have won in Garmisch since 2010.

- 'Extremely cool' -

It's been a decade since Maria Hoefl-Riesch won the women's downhill and Felix Neureuther won the men's slalom in the same season.

Dressen's win the week before "was certainly a big inspiration", said Rebensburg.

"I saw what it means to win a home race and how special it is."

In the absence of overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin, who's father died last week, only four skiers managed to finish within a second of Rebensburg.

Swiss Corinne Suter, the overall downhill leader, was fifth at 0.98 while Austria's Stephanie Venier, the 2019 downhill winner in Garmisch, also struggled and finished 12th at 1.92sec.

This was Rebensburg's 19th career World Cup victory yet only her first downhill triumph after 14 giant slalom and four super-G wins.

"It's really incredible to have now won in all three disciplines in which I race," she said.

"It's extremely cool that it worked."

This is her second World Cup win of the season having won the super-G race in Lake Louise last December.

Brignone, who is now 190 points behind Shiffrin at second in the overall World Cup standings, knew exactly where she lost time to Rebensburg.

"I didn't take the first big turn on the flat well and that's where I lost a lot of time," admitted Brignone.

The 29-year-old has good memories of Garmisch, having taken giant slalom silver on the Kandahar at the 2011 world championships.

She also won the junior world combined title there in 2009.

"I really like the snow, I always feel good racing here, especially in super-G," she added with one eye on Sunday's race.

Ledecka joked that her podium placing was down to her pre-race breakfast, a fortnight after bombing on her last downhill race when she finished 32nd in Bansko.

"I had scrambled eggs, which weren't on offer in Bulgaria, so that was the main difference," joked the 24-year-old, who is also a reigning snowboard Olympic champion in parallel giant slalom.

"I'll see how it goes for tomorrow now," she added before Sunday's super-G, the discipline in which she is the reigning Olympic champion.

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