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Olympics: Germany's Hoefl-Riesch defends super-combined gold

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch defended her Olympic super-combined gold in superb fashion on Monday, proving she was the woman to beat in the discipline.

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia: Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch defended her Olympic super-combined gold in superb fashion on Monday, proving she was the woman to beat in the discipline.

The 29-year-old, who also won the world title last year, posted a total time of 2min 34.62sec after one downhill and one slalom run.

She finished ahead of Austria's Nicole Hosp at 0.40sec and US favourite Julia Mancuso, who made a key mistake halfway through the course to finish third at 0.53sec despite leading after the downhill.

Hoefl-Riesch was fifth after the morning's run, but put in a smooth performance in the slalom -- her speciality -- to take her third Olympic gold medal after combined and slalom wins in Vancouver in 2010.

Switzerland's Lara Gut, second after the downhill and a favourite for the podium, made an expensive mistake halfway down the floodlit course and skied out.

She was one of nine racers who failed to finish the tricky run, including Austrian former double world champion Elisabeth Goergl, Sweden's Lotte Smiseth Sejersted and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin.

Canada's Marie-Michele Gagnon, winner of the sole World Cup super-combined race this season, fell forward after catching a gate with her ski, and appeared injured, holding her left arm as she got up.

In all, 31 racers tackled the slalom course which was new to many, after braving an icy and challenging 2,700-metre downhill in the morning.

The super-combined tests racers' ability to tackle both speed and technical courses but it is the event least featured at World Cup level, with just two or three races per year.

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