Race canceled, Riesch tops Vonn for overall title

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By GRAHAM DUNBAR
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 19, 2011; 11:52 AM

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland -- Maria Riesch of Germany ended Lindsey Vonn's three-year reign without putting on her skis, clinching the World Cup overall title after the final race was canceled because of poor weather.

The best friends and rivals were set for a dramatic showdown in the season-ending giant slalom with Riesch holding a three-point lead. But World Cup race officials ruled the course unfit after days of rain, wet snow and warm temperatures.

"I'm really, really happy finally to have won," said Riesch, the Olympic champion who was runner-up to her American rival for the past two seasons in the overall.

"I had such a great season. Of course, Lindsey would also have deserved it but she won it the last three years and now it is my turn - finally."

Vonn said she was "devastated" to have been denied the chance to retain her title. Vonn won discipline titles this season in the downhill, super-G and super-combined.

"Win or lose, I just wanted the chance. I feel devastated," Vonn said in a statement released by the U.S. ski team. "There may never be a day where I don't look back and say 'What if?'"

Vonn went on to praise her good friend as a worthy winner.

"Maria had an outstanding season and again proved to be my biggest competitor. She's worked really hard for this. I'm happy for her," she said.

In their thrilling season-long duel, Riesch would have lost had she been 0.02 seconds slower in the decisive slalom race on Friday.

"It was a really tight race. At the end you need some luck as well and I had this luck," said the 26-year-old German.

The cancellation was announced at 7.20 a.m. local time, and Riesch heard the news while preparing to travel to the course.

"I was in front of the hotel. Some people at the balcony said, 'Yeah, it's officially canceled.' I didn't believe at first," she said. "We were crying, full of happiness."


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© 2011 The Associated Press

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