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German double as Riesch takes slalom

MARIA Riesch won the slalom at the world championships yesterday, giving Germany two straight golds after Kathrin Hoelzl took the giant slalom.

Moving up from sixth after the first leg, Riesch timed 1 minute, 51.80 seconds over two runs down the steep Face de Bellevarde course in Val d'Isere, France.

Riesch has won 10 World Cup races in her career but this was her first medal at a major championship. She crashed in downhill training last week and finished fourth in super-combi.

Defending champion Sarka Zahrobska of the Czech Republic finished second, 0.77 seconds behind, and Tanja Poutiainen of Finland was third, 1.09 back, for her second straight bronze.

Lindsey Vonn stood second after the opening leg but fell on her injured right thumb in her second trip down. The American did not appear to suffer any further damage.

First-run leader Manuela Moelgg was on pace for victory when she straddled a gate within sight of the finish line.

The Italian has never won on the World Cup circuit despite five runner-up finishes.

Riesch won four consecutive slaloms earlier this season and holds a 580-440 lead over Vonn in the World Cup discipline table.

Vonn crashed through a gate after falling and slid downhill for about 70 meters. She got back up and skied down to the finish after Moelgg's run and was one of the first to congratulate her good friend Riesch.

"She's fine. It was a bit of a bang, but we think it's OK," US Ski Team physician Terry Orr said. "She'a very gutsy girl."

Vonn skied in a specially designed splint after slicing her thumb open at a celebration for her downhill victory last Monday and undergoing surgery to repair a severed tendon. It looked like Vonn had a silver boxing glove on her hand, which she used to knock poles out of her way.

"I had to hit the gate differently on my pole so that it doesn't hurt my hand as much," Vonn said after the first run. "I'm skiing about 90 percent of what I can do. It's just a little bit awkward. My right hand probably weighs like two pounds more because of all the duct tape I have on it."

Vonn also won the super-G that opened the championships and was aiming for her third gold.

Italians Denise Karbon and Nicole Gius finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Sandrine Aubert, the Frenchwoman who stood third after the opening run, fell on her second trip down, hiked back up and finished nearly 50 seconds behind.

Sweden's Anja Paerson, who won the first gold of her stellar career in slalom at St. Anton in 2001, moved up from 20th after the first run to finish ninth.


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