Skiing: Slalom victory is Vonn to remember for Maria

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The Independent Online

Germany's Maria Riesch edged out arch-rival Lindsey Vonn to win the season-opening women's World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland, yesterday. World champion Riesch posted a combined time of one minute 48.71 seconds in her favourite discipline, 0.08 sec ahead of the American Vonn.

The local favourite Tanja Poutiainen, winner of the opening giant slalom in Soelden last month, was third, 1.16sec adrift, while Riesch's sister Susanne was fourth.

The Austrian Marlies Schild, the 2007 and 2008 slalom World Cup winner, took a morale-boosting sixth place in her first World Cup race back after missing the whole of last season with a double leg fracture.

The Olympic champion, Anja Paerson, blundered in the second leg but her fourth best time in the morning run showed the Swede was back close to her best in a discipline she has overlooked in recent seasons.

The women's circuit crosses the Atlantic and resumes with a giant slalom and a slalom in Aspen in two weeks' time.

Meanwhile, Kristan Bromley earned an impressive bronze medal for Great Britain at the first bob skeleton World Cup event of the season in the United States.

A strong second run from Bromley, the 2008 world champion, lifted the 37-year-old from fifth to third. Latvia's Martins Dukurs won gold ahead of Sandro Stielicke of Germany, while fellow Brits Andy Wood and Adam Pengilly finished outside the top 20.

Britain's Shelley Rudman finished fourth in the women's race. Amy Williams, silver medallist at last season's World Championships, finished sixth overall, while Donna Creighton came 19th.

The women's event at Utah Olympic Park was cut to a single heat – with Germany's Anja Huber coming out on top – as snow affected the timing mechanism after that.

Huber recorded a time of 51.22 sec, ahead of Canadians Amy Gough and Mellisa Hollingsworth, with Rudman completing the run in 52.48 sec.

Rudman took home Britain's only medal of the last Winter Olympics when she won silver in the women's skeleton in 2006, and the team are considered one of GB's stronger medal hopes for Vancouver 2010.

In the men's event, Wood and Pengilly's finishes of 23rd and 24th respectively meant they had just one run at the Park City track.

Wood recorded a time of 51 sec, fractionally ahead of Pengilly, who posted a time of 51.11.

Sheffield-based Bromley's combined time over his two runs was one minute 40.37 sec, a 10th of a second behind Stielicke, while Dukurs won in a time of 1:39.75.

"It was a great start for Kristan, I was delighted. It couldn't have been better," Bryn Vale, president of British Skeleton, said. "We are delivering. We deliver in the big events and our programme is focused entirely on that."

In bobsleigh, the current world champions, Britain's Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke, kicked off their Olympic season on Friday with a seventh-placed finish at Park City, 0.56 sec behind.