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SKIING

Riesch takes gold in super-combined

The achievement brought a broad smile, but tears then trickled down the cheeks of Maria Riesch as she finally became Germany's Olympic golden girl on Thursday.

Riesch takes gold in super-combined
Photo: DPA

It was something she had dreamed about since taking up skiing at age three.

The 25-year-old stormed to victory in the women’s super-combined at Whistler after downhill champ Lindsey Vonn crashed out in a slalom having dominated the first leg downhill with a 0.33-second margin.

“Now I belong to the gold Olympians and that is really something very special,” said Riesch, who placed a disappointing eighth in Wednesday’s downhill, which Vonn won. “It’s a huge achievement because the expectations were so huge. It’s a strong comeback. After that disappointing downhill I knew I just had to give it everything I’d got today,” added the tall blonde, whose relationship with Vonn is so close they have spent Christmas holidays together. “For winning a gold medal everything must be perfect, and everything was perfect today.”

The dream had been with Riesch since she joined the local ski club at Garmisch in her home region of Bavaria, closely followed by younger sister and fellow top racer Susanna.

Riesch, dubbed the “comeback kid” by German media, never knows when she’s down.

Unlike Vonn, Riesch, who first scored World Cup points aged just 16, knows just what it’s like to suffer a career-threatening injury.

She was forced to miss Turin 2006 after tearing cruciate knee ligaments, and was out for nearly two seasons.

Just before the 2009 world championships, she hurt her spine and left knee in a fall in training, but bounced back to win the slalom title.

But she has a dogged fighter’s motto: “It’s not how often you fall down that counts, but how often you get up again.”

While a technical and bumpy downhill saw several crashes – including the two racers immediately before Riesch, Thursday’s race was another story entirely as she finished 0.94 seconds ahead of US silver winner Julia Mancuso.

“I knew I was on the money today unlike yesterday, when I was really nervous,” said. “I felt an inner calm.”

Riesch joins Christl Cranz (1936) and Katja Seizinger (1998) as German women’s combined champions.

It was also Germany’s first alpine gold since Nagano in 1998 when Hilde Gerg won the slalom and Seizinger won the downhill and led a German clean sweep of the combined.

She wobbled on the downhill but then it was Vonn’s turn to suffer as the American crashed in the slalom.

“I felt bad for her because she missed a medal (but) she has another chance for a medal in two days in the Super G,” smiled Riesch, now level in the gold stakes with her friend and rival.

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BAVARIA

Bar closures and no Christmas markets: How Bavaria is tightening Covid rules

Bavaria will order the closure of all bars and clubs as part of sweeping new restrictions to try and control the Covid spread and ease overrun hospitals. Here's a look at what's planned.

Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich.
Closed Christmas market stalls in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

On Friday Bavarian state leader Markus Söder announced more tough restrictions to deal with spiralling Covid infections and packed intensive care units.

“The corona drama continues,” said Söder after the cabinet meeting, adding that 90 percent of Covid patients in state hospitals are unvaccinated. “Being unvaccinated is a real risk.”

Bavaria has a vaccination rate of 65.9 percent – lower than the nationwide rate of almost 68 percent.

READ ALSO: Bavaria cancels all Christmas markets in Covid surge

Söder said the state’s Covid package was about “blocking, braking and boosting”, adding that vaccination centres will be ramped up. 

“We must act,” he said. “Bavaria is exhausting almost all legal means until December 15th.”

Earlier this week, Bavaria introduced a state-wide 2G rule, meaning only vaccinated people (geimpft) and people who’ve recovered from Covid (genesen) can enter many public spaces. People who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to get it are excluded. 

Here’s an overview of the planned restrictions set to come in on Wednesday, as reported by local broadcaster BR24. 

Bars, clubs and restaurant curfew

From Wednesday, and for three weeks, all nightlife like clubs, discos, bars, pubs and brothels in Bavaria are set to close their doors. Restaurants will have to shut at 10pm. So planned Christmas nights out will likely need to be cancelled or postponed. 

Christmas markets

There will be no Christmas or Christkindl markets in Bavaria this year. In the past days, several cities had announced that they would not be holding these events this year due to the Covid situation. 

Contact restrictions on the unvaccinated

Söder announced new restrictions on the number of people those who are not inoculated can socialise with. A maximum of five unvaccinated people will be allowed to meet, from two different households. Children under 12 will not be included in the total, as well as vaccinated or people who’ve recovered from Covid.

Cultural and sporting events

All cultural and sporting events can only take place with significantly reduced spectators. At theatres, opera performances, sporting events, in leisure centres and at trade fairs, there will be a 25-percent capacity limit. The 2G plus rule also applies. This means that only vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to enter (not the unvaccinated) – and only with a negative rapid test. Masks are compulsory everywhere.

Universities, driving schools, close-body services: 2G plus

All universities, driving schools, adult education centres and music schools will only be open to those who have been vaccinated and have recovered – making it 2G. This rule also applies to body-related services, like hairdressers and beauty salons. Only medical, therapeutic and nursing services are exempt from the 2G rule. So unvaccinated people can still go to the doctor or receive a medical procedure. 

KEY POINTS: Germany finalises new Covid restrictions for winter

Shops

Shops remain exempt from 2G rules, meaning unvaccinated people can visit them. However, there is to be limits on capacity. This means that fewer customers are allowed into a shop at the same time.

Special rules for hotspots

Currently, the incidence in eight Bavarian districts is above 1,000 infections per 100,000 people in seven days. Here and in all other regions where the incidence goes above this number, public life is to be shut down as far as possible.

This means that restaurants, hotels and all sports and cultural venues will have to close. Hairdressers and other body-related service providers will also not be allowed to open for three weeks, and events will also have to be cancelled. Universities will only be allowed to offer digital teaching. Shops will remain open, but there must be 20 square metres of space per customer. This means that only half as many customers as in other regions are allowed in a shop.

If the incidence falls below 1,000 for at least five days, the rules are lifted.

Schools and daycare

Throughout Bavaria, schools and daycare centres are to remain open. However, there will be regular Covid testing. Children and young people have to continue to wear a face mask during lessons, including school sports, unless they are exercising outside. 

Bavaria is expected to approve the measures on Tuesday and they will be in force until at least December 15th. We’ll keep you updated if there are any changes. 

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