Lindsey Vonn crashes out of super combined; Riesch takes gold
MARIA Riesch snatched women's super-combined Olympic gold from the grasp of Lindsey Vonn - who promptly insisted she couldn't be happier.
VICTORY: Maria Riesch took the women's super combined Olympic title after downhill leader Lindsey Vonn fell in the slalom (Getty Images)
Vonn and Riesch are a rare breed in international sport, close rivals who are even closer friends.
They spend their holidays together - swapping girlie talk over banana daiquiris in the summer and fireside chats at Christmas.
They are as thick as thieves, as close as sisters.
Riesch was quick to congratulate Vonn following her sensational downhill victory and one day later the roles were tearfully reversed.
Vonn led by 0.33 seconds after the downhill stage but perhaps the strain of three races in just over 24 days took its toll, while the slalom discipline is the most taxing on her shin injury - which she still claims is ‘killing her'.
And the 25-year-old German, friend or no friend, turned the screw with a flawless slalom run, posting a combined time of 2:09.14 minutes.
While Vonn thundered down Franz's Run to collect downhill gold, she glided across the snow in the super combined - the weight of expectation has gone and the shackles have come off.
She made a fearless start to her slalom run but having seen Riesch's perfect performance, Vonn knew she must put the hammer down, only to belly-flop at the halfway stage and hand the German gold.
Julia Mancuso of the USA continued her impressive form to take her second silver of the Games while Sweden's Anja Paerson recovered from a horror crash in the downhill to take bronze.
Riesch was a class above however, effortlessly snaking between the gates to set the standard to which Vonn had to aspire.
And the American could not continue her gold rush. Vonn-couver was stunned but she already has the one she wanted and has three more chances to add to her medal tally.
Meanwhile, Great Britain's Chemmy Alcott will reset her sights on Saturday's Super-G after finishing 11th.
Alcott's most encouraging performances from the World Cup season have come in the super combined discipline, with a top ten in Val d'Isere her best race of the year.
And while not a slalom specialist, she admitted her downhill disappointed.
"It wasn't ideal. I was trying to be aggressive but I was just catching everywhere," she said.
"I thought it was a tactic that would work on the icy course today, but after some close calls, I lost some confidence.
"I had no pressure on after my poor downhill, so it was easier to pull it back with the slalom. Ten years ago I was a good slalom skier so I tapped into that confidence."