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Hoefl-Riesch crashes, Fenninger takes overall World Cup lead

The Canadian Press

3/12/2014 10:19:51 AM

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland - Maria Hoefl-Riesch was taken to a hospital with a shoulder injury after crashing in a downhill race on Wednesday, allowing Anna Fenninger of Austria to move atop the overall World Cup standings.

The final downhill of the season was won by Lara Gut of Switzerland, the Olympic bronze medallist , but the drama centred on 2011 champion Hoefl-Riesch.

The 29-year-old German was taken by helicopter off the slope and then brought to a nearby hospital for treatment.

"She has pain in the shoulder and back on the right side. We don't know yet but we don't expect any fracture or (dislocation)," Germany team spokesman Ralph Eder told The Associated Press by telephone.

Fenninger was sixth-fastest before Hoefl-Riesch started last in what has shaped up as a back-and-forth duel for the overall title.

Hoefl-Riesch crashed midway down when her skis slipped away beneath her at a sharp right-hand turn. She slid off course and became tangled in the safety nets.

With Fenninger failing to win the race, Hoefl-Riesch had clinched the season-long downhill title minutes before entering the start gate. But she missed valuable points toward the bigger prize.

The downhill trophy ceremony went ahead after the race with an empty top step on the podium and the German anthem playing as the helicopter landed nearby.

Fenninger earned 40 points to take an 11-point lead overall. That could be enough for her first title if Hoefl-Riesch is unable to compete in the three remaining races this week.

"I hope Maria can race again. I don't know how she is," Fenninger said. "My focus is on the next two races. What she is doing, I can't change."

The 24-year-old Austrian will start in super-G on Thursday and the season-ending giant slalom on Sunday.

Hoefl-Riesch was scheduled to start all four races at the World Cup Finals. She is chasing a second overall title after getting her third Olympic gold medal in Sochi last month.

Still, no woman has won more World Cup races this season than Gut, who got her sixth victory and second in downhill.

Gut won in 1 minute, 32.31 seconds, beating Elisabeth Goergl of Austria by 0.05 seconds. Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland was third, 0.57 behind, in her final World Cup race before retiring.

The women's race started two hours after the men went down the same 2.3-kilometre (1.43-mile) Silvano Beltrametti course. Gut was 2.32 seconds slower than men's winner Matthias Mayer of Austria, giving her the 18th fastest time of the day.