Vonn dominates Maze to take downhill

Updated 19 January 2013
0

Vonn dominates Maze to take downhill

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy: American downhill queen Lindsey Vonn dominated overall World Cup leader Tina Maze to claim her 58th win in the series and first win of 2013 here yesterday.
Vonn, celebrating the 29th downhill win of her stunning World Cup career, clocked 1min 38.25sec with Slovenian Maze in second at 0.43sec.
American Leanne Smith finished third at 0.89sec to complete the podium, pushing France’s Marion Rolland down to fourth.
While Vonn, 28, boosts her lead in the downhill standings, Maze took another step toward her maiden overall title after main rival, German Maria Hoefl-Riesch, did not finish.
“I’m not happy when other athletes are having troubles,” said Maze, who won her first ever World Cup super-G last week at Sankt Anton in Austria to become only the sixth woman to win races in all five alpine disciplines.
“It’s part of the sport, you want to compete against the best and I’m not happy if someone is not doing good.” After a first downhill podium at Cortina, Maze now has 1414 points and leads Hoefl-Riesch (744) by a massive 670 points.
The day, however, belonged to Vonn, the four-time World Cup champion who was only too glad to get back to winning ways.
She was hospitalized with an intestinal ailment early in the season before bouncing back to win all three races at Lake Louise in December, after which she took a month’s break after a fall at Val d’Isere.
Vonn recently admitted to suffering from depression for a number of years and her divorce was only recently finalized.
Doubts were raised when she could only finish sixth, behind compatriot Alice McKennis, at Sankt Anton last week.
But although virtually out of the running for a fifth overall title, she was visibly delighted at the finish.
“The last couple of races I’ve been seeing different numbers other than one next to my name,” she said.
“So I was kind of half-surprised to come down in the lead. It just feels good to be back on the podium, especially with my teammate Leanne, it’s a great day for the team.” Smith, one of several American alpine racers who have shown promise of late, set the early pace when she blitzed the 2.61 km long Olimpia delle Tofane course to finish over a second ahead of Swiss starter Fraenzi Aufdenblatten.
Having finished runner-up to Swiss Lara Gut at the Val d’Isere in mid-December, the 25-year-old was determined to reach the podium again.
“I was feeling confident after yesterday’s training run and also after my result in Val d’Isere,” said Smith.
“Every day you have to come out and give it your all. I was extremely nervous today, but I was the same in Val d’Isere, so that seems to be working.” Maze, starting with bib number 12, completed her run four tenths of a second faster and she looked assured of a podium when Hoefl-Riesch skied out after a bad landing and Cortina champion Daniel Merighetti finished way off the pace.

Vonn, however, then turned a risky run — that saw her come close to crashing out in mid-race before the corrected herself masterfully — into a winning performance at the finish.
“It’s been a slow process building my confidence, building my strength back up,” added the American, who now has 340 points in the downhill race with compatriot Stacey Cook second on 211.
“Sankt Anton was a good start, sixth place, and then today I said I wanted to be on the podium.
“Now I’m in great shape going into the rest of the season. There’s a lot of speed events left and the world championships (in March), so I’m in great shape now.”


Mohamed Salah threatens Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d’Or stranglehold

Updated 10 min 40 sec ago
0

Mohamed Salah threatens Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d’Or stranglehold

  • Messi and Ronaldo have won the award for the past ten years
  • Salah has emerged as a genuine rival after scoring 43 goals this season

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah could be the man to finally break the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly at the top of world football after the Liverpool forward burnished his soaring reputation with a mesmerising Champions League performance against Roma.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi have locked down the Ballon d’Or award for a decade, winning five gongs apiece — for the past seven years they have occupied the top two slots.
But Salah is now second favorite behind Ronaldo for this year’s award after scoring his 42nd and 43rd goals of the season in a thrilling 5-2 victory for Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal first leg.
After his first strike against his former club on Tuesday, the man dubbed by fans as the “Egyptian King” stood motionless, hands raised in apology, as bedlam broke out on a night for the ages at Anfield.
Salah’s curling effort arrowed into the top corner with such accuracy his manager Jurgen Klopp labelled it “a genius strike.”
Soon after came the forward’s signature finish, a cute dink over advancing Roma goalkeeper Alisson for his 43rd goal in 47 games for Liverpool.
When Salah, 25, made the move from the Italian capital back to the Premier League just 10 months ago for €42 million ($51 million), there were plenty who felt Roma had got the better deal. Salah after all was a talented player, but who often lacked an end product.
It also came just a few weeks before Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record €222 million revolutionized the transfer market.
The Brazilian’s desire to leave the Catalan giants was tied to his ambition to beat Messi and Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or by stepping out of Messi’s shadow.
Now, though, it is Salah who has emerged as the pretender to end the Messi-Ronaldo domination by not only scoring the quantity of goals that have become the pair’s trademark but doing it when it really matters, in the latter stages of the Champions League.
“If you think he is the best in the world, write it or say it,” urged Klopp, who has been credited with bringing out Salah’s previously untapped potential.
“To be the best in the world you need to do that over a longer period I think, and there are a few others that are not so bad.”
Heavily left-footed, small, speedy and with a low center of gravity, Salah’s characteristics are far more like those of Messi than the muscular goal-machine Ronaldo.
“In a certain light, at certain points, it is possible to glimpse in Salah a little of Messi’s afterglow,” wrote Rory Smith in the New York Times.
And he demonstrated another Messi-like quality in showing no mercy to Roma.
Chasing his first hat-trick in the Champions League, Salah would have been forgiven for going for goal as he bore down on Alisson once more after half-time.
But he showed why he is considered one of the game’s more unselfish superstars by instead creating another two goals for strike partners Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
When Salah left the field to a standing ovation 15 minutes from time, Liverpool led 5-0.
“Unstoppable (when Salah’s on the pitch),” said the back page of The Times.
Two late Roma away goals have at least given the Italians hope of recreating the incredible comeback they staged from a 4-1 first-leg deficit against Barca in the quarter-finals.
For once it is Salah’s turn to lead the way where Messi faltered on his return to the Eternal City next week.
Messi is almost certain to win a La Liga and Copa del Rey double and Ronaldo could lead Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League after another bucketload of goals this season.
But Salah is the coming man and after bagging the African and English players’ player of the year crowns, it is hard to back against him also conquering the world.