Winter sports: Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch wins super-combined world title
Schladming, Austria • Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany bounced back from a disappointing World Cup season to win the super-combined at the skiing world championships Friday.
Hoefl-Riesch was fourth after the downhill portion before posting the second-fastest time in the slalom to finish in 2 minutes, 39.92 seconds. She beat Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.46.
Former overall champion Nicole Hosp was fastest in the slalom and was one second behind in third to earn Austria its first medal at its home worlds.
"I can't believe it," Hoefl-Riesch said. "The last couple of weeks have not been easy. I had only two podiums this entire season so I wasn't coming here as a favorite. My goal was to win any medal, the color didn't matter to me. Incredible, it is gold."
Lindsey Vonn won the World Cup super-combined title for the past three seasons, but the American was out for the season after injuring her right knee in a crash at Tuesday's super-G.
Teammate Julia Mancuso, runner-up to Hoefl-Riesch in the 2010 Olympic race, finished eighth, 3.33 seconds off the winning time.
"That was a little disappointing. I was ready to have a good run," Mancuso said. "I still have that mentality that I want to try and win, so maybe I'm pushing it too hard."
Mancuso was 19th after the downhill, but had the seventh-fastest slalom.
The men's downhill is scheduled for Saturday.
World Cup luge
Germany's powerhouse luge team rolled on Friday in Lake Placid, N.Y., with a pair of victories at snowy Mount Van Hoevenberg to clinch World Cup overall season titles. Natalie Geisenberger took the women's competition, and the team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt started the day with a win in the men's doubles event.
Julia Clukey posted a career-best second-place finish .295 seconds behind Geisenberger's winning combined time of 1 minute, 28.440 seconds. Clukey's three U.S. teammates finished in the top 10. Alex Gough of Canada was third.
The 27-year-old Clukey, of Augusta, Maine, earned her first finish on the podium of a World Cup with a two-run time of 1:28.735. The performance continued what has been the best season of a career interrupted by a struggle with Arnold-Chiari Syndrome, which produces chronic headaches, fatigue and nausea. She underwent surgery in 2011 to have eight millimeters of bone shaved from her skull to relieve pressure.
With a large of group of family and friends cheering her on, Clukey followed the third-fastest time of the first heat with the third-best time of the second run.
"It's an amazing feeling," Clukey said. "I really wanted to attack on the start. I know this track in and out so I really was just focused on my position on the sled. I knew regardless if I was a little bit too far to the left or too far to the right I knew how to correct my lines in the curves."
Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan led after the men's short program at the figure skating Four Continents in Osaka, Japan, upstaging Daisuke Takahashi on Friday.
Hanyu opened with a quad toeloop and completed a flawless triple axel for a score of 87.65 points. His only mistake came when he popped a triple lutz triple on a combination jump.
"I don't know the reason I popped the lutz," Hanyu said. "But I felt I did really well otherwise and put myself in a great position for tomorrow's free skate."
Han Yan of China was second with 85.08 points, while Richard Dornbush of the United States was third with 83.01.
Takahashi botched his opening quad and fell on his triple axel and finished fourth with 82.62. The men's event wraps up on Saturday with the free skate.
The Four Continents is the last major competition before the world championships next month.
World champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada were first after the ice dance short program. Virtue and Moir received 75.12 points to finish ahead of world silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White who had 74.68 points.
"We had a couple little mistakes here and there, which certainly you can't get away with at this point," Davis said. "We're looking to execute everything perfectly at this point in the season. When you are competing against Scott and Tessa, you pretty much have to be perfect."
Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States were third with 65.44 points.
"That was a solid performance for us," Chock said. "That's how we've been training. We want to be consistent and keep improving from here up to worlds."
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada placed first in the pairs short program with 70.44 points while compatriots Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch were second with 66.33 points. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, the U.S. champions, were third with 53.06 points.
Two-time world champ Mao Asada of Japan is looking to regain the title she lost at last year's Four Continents to Ashley Wagner of the United States when the women's event begins on Saturday.