Hoefl-Riesch rules World Cup slalom in Finland

Updated 11 November 2012
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Hoefl-Riesch rules World Cup slalom in Finland

LEVI, Finland: Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany overcame a nagging hip injury, putting down a blazing second run Saturday to overtake local favorite Tanja Poutiainen of Finland and win the first World Cup slalom of the season.
Hoefl-Riesch trailed Poutiainen after the first run, but had the fastest time in the second for a total time of 1 minute, 55.58 seconds.
“It’s amazing, I’m so happy,” said Hoefl-Riesch, who also won a slalom in Levia in 2009 and was second here in 2010. “I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Poutiainen led by 0.30 seconds after the first run to raise hopes of a home victory, but couldn’t keep up in the second and finished 0.55 behind Hoefl-Riesch.
Hoefl-Riesch competed despite limited training because of an ailing hip. She said she wasn’t getting enough speed on the flat portions of the course.
“So I knew I had to take a lot of risks on the steep,” she said. “I had to attack.”
American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin held on to third place for the second podium finish of her career, 0.74 seconds back. This was her first race in Levi — the northernmost venue on the World Cup circuit, some 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
“I’m speechless, really,” said the 17-year-old Shiffrin, who was also third last in a slalom in Lienz, Austria. “I couldn’t really ask for more. ... This is going to give me a lot of confidence.”
Slovenia’s Tina Maze, who won the giant slalom in the season opener two weeks in Soelden, Austria, was fourth to stay first in the overall World Cup standings with 150 points. Defending overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn of the United States skipped the race.
Hoefl-Riesch is second overall with 124 points and Poutiainen is third with 91.
Austrian slalom specialist Marlies Schild went out in the first run when she straddled a gate just before the finish.
“I had a little mistake before the combination and then I was just straight and yeah ... I have to look at it with my coaches,” Schild said.
Schild, the reigning World Cup slalom champion, won the Levi races in 2006 and 2010 and was looking to become the first woman to win three times at the Finnish venue.
Last season, she won six of 10 slaloms.


Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir ‘100 percent ready’ to face England, says coach

Updated 23 May 2018
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Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir ‘100 percent ready’ to face England, says coach

  • Left-armer is fit after a knee injury
  • “He’s fine, he’s ready to go,” says team coach Mickey Arthur

LONDON: Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir is “100 percent ready” for the first Test against England at Lord’s starting on Thursday despite a knee injury, according to team coach Mickey Arthur.
The left-arm fast bowler was seen stretching out his right knee as Pakistan beat Test debutants Ireland by five wickets during a one-off match in Malahide, Dublin concluded last week.
Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested Amir had suffered a recurrence of a “chronic” problem.
But head coach Arthur, speaking to reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday, had no qualms about the fitness of Amir.
“He’s perfect, 100 percent,” Arthur insisted. “He’s fine, he’s ready to go.”
As for Amir, missing Pakistan’s final warm-up match ahead of the two-Test England series, last weekend’s drawn match against Leicestershire, Arthur added: “It was his rotation. (Mohammad) Abbas sat out the first (tour) game, Hasan (Ali) sat out the second, so he sat out the third.”
Amir was the hottest property in world cricket after bursting on the scene as a teenager in 2009 and at 18 he was the youngest bowler to have taken 50 Test wickets.
But his world was turned upside down in 2010 when he became involved in a spot-fixing scandal after deliberately bowling no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England — an incident that would eventually see him sent to prison by an English court and given a five-year ban by the International Cricket Council.
Amir’s first 14 Tests saw him take 51 wickets at just a fraction over 23 apiece, figures that had him on course to be an all-time great.
But the 17 Tests since his comeback two years ago have seen him take 49 wickets at a more expensive average of 34.91
Amir, and Pakistan for that matter, have not been helped by the fact that those 17 Tests since 2016 have also seen 16 catches dropped off his bowling.
The stigma of his spot-fixing exile has started to fade, with Amir playing for Pakistan during their 2-2 draw in a four-Test series in England two years ago.
He also starred for Essex as they won English domestic cricket’s first-class County Championship title last season.
Now the 26-year-old Amir is set to be the leader of an inexperienced Pakistan attack.
England, who didn’t manage a single win during their recent seven combined Tests in Australia and New Zealand, collapsed to 58 all out in Auckland in March as Kiwi left-arm quick Trent Boult took six wickets.
And Arthur backed Amir to do similar damage
“I think Mohammad Amir is the finest exponent of pace and swing when he gets it 100 percent right,” Arthur said.
“We’ve used that spell that Trent Boult bowled in Auckland. We’ve had a look at his lengths.
“We believe he (Amir) bowls incredibly well at left-handers and there will be three left-handers (Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan) in the (England) top four.
“He’s ready, I just hope it goes really well for him because he’s been unlucky at times with the amount of dropped catches.
“He’s ready, he’s determined, he’s fit, he’s strong, he’s excited, he’s in a very good place at the moment.”
Arthur is unusual in having served as the head coach of three leading nations — his native South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.
But he was adamant he had no desire to replace Trevor Bayliss when the Australian steps down as England coach next year.
“No, I’m very happy,” Arthur said. “I’d like to keep going with Pakistan for as long as they will have me because it’s unfinished business for us at the moment. This is a very young cricket team and I worry if we move on what happens to these guys. Their fitness regime is outstanding, they are training hard and they are enjoying their cricket. I’m very, very happy with where I am at the moment,” he insisted.