By Patrick Lang
LEVI, Finland, Nov 10 (Reuters) – – Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch battled through the pain barrier to secure her 24th World Cup victory in the Levi slalom on Saturday.
The Olympic slalom champion had been warned by German team doctors not to compete at the Finnish resort because of a hip injury, but she ignored the advice to triumph in a combined time of one minute 55.58 seconds.
Saturday’s result would have brought back joyous memories for the 27-year-old skier from Garmisch as she had won her first slalom in Levi eight years ago.
She eclipsed first leg pace setter and local favorite Tanja Poutiainen by 0.55 seconds.
American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin, 17, was third, 0.74 adrift.
Hoefl-Riesch had considered hanging up her skis for good during the summer break but decided to postpone her retirement plans so that she can compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Pre-race favorite Marlies Schild of Austria missed her chance to equal the record number of 34 slalom wins held by Swiss Vreni Schneider when she straddled a gate in the morning run.
American World Cup holder Lindsey Vonn shunned the Levi weekend to save energy for races at home in Aspen later this month.
Winner of the opening giant slalom in Soelden a fortnight ago, Slovenia’s Tina Maze finished fourth to increase her lead in the overall World Cup standings to 150 points. She leads Hoefl-Riesch by 26 points while Vonn has yet to score.