KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Maria Hoefl-Riesch rolled her eyes at the mere mention of her run, unable to hide the distaste for her mistake-filled performance.
The German standout struggled in the upper section of the course in the women's Olympic downhill on Wednesday and never recovered, finishing way back in 13th. Her time of 1 minute, 42.74 seconds was 1.17 seconds behind co-winners Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland.
"Just not good skiing," Hoefl-Riesch said. Sort of surprising, especially after defending her title in the super-combined just two days ago. In that race, Hoefl-Riesch struggled in the downhill portion as well, but was able to make up ground in the slalom run, which was held on an adjacent course.
Try as she might, Hoefl-Riesch just can't seem to solve a particularly difficult section near the top. She's lost speed there all week. "Many mistakes. Not enough," said Hoefl-Riesch, who has three Olympic gold medals in her career.
Hoefl-Riesch was the 19th skier to take the hill, when the snow was starting to turn a little slushy. Course workers even kept sprinkling salt on the surface, just to keep it from completely eroding. But she refused to blame her lower starting position for her less-than-stellar run.
"It was no problem to have a fast time there, as Tina Maze showed," she said. Good point. Maze went right after Hoefl-Riesch and turned in a blistering time. Hoefl-Riesch acknowledged that part of the problem may be fatigue. She said the training sessions and races are taking a toll on her. She still considers the super-G her best chance to earn another medal at the Sochi Olympics, but insists she shouldn't be the favorite in either the giant slalom or the slalom.
"Most of the technical skiers are still at home, having rest days and having time for training," she said. "I'm on skis every day and having a really tough program. "Monday (the super-combined race) cost me lots of power. I need to be careful now the next days, to save my power for the next week."