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Alpine skiing: Rolland rides French medal wave to gold

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Newly-crowned world downhill champion Marion Rolland admitted she overcame low self-confidence to beat her rivals on an icy course here on Sunday.

However, she credited her French teammates' medals and the world stage she was on for giving her the necessary push to win.

It was a far cry from the misery that followed after the 30-year-old suffered an embarrassing fall just out of the start gate in the downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Here, though, she beat a raft of big-name favourites to come out a surprise winner, finishing ahead of Italy's Nadia Fanchini and Germany's defending bronze medallist Maria Hoefl-Riesch.

"I knew I had to believe in myself even more and really push myself, not let go," said Rolland, who had only two career World Cup podiums until Sunday's triumph -- both tellingly in Schladming in last year's finals.

"It's one of the things I have to work on myself, because I'm not so self-confident.

"But I knew when I woke up this morning: if I want to have a medal today I really have to push myself and go for it.

"Even if the sensation under my skis wasn't really good, I knew I had to keep it, be strong and go until the finish line. To do my best."

Rolland's gold took France to the top of the medal table, following Gauthier de Tessieres' super-G silver and David Poisson's downhill bronze.

These early successes played a key part in Rolland's belief in herself.

"I saw Gauthier come back to the hotel with his silver medal. Then yesterday, I saw David come back with bronze. And I thought to myself: we're just missing one for it to be really great for the French team," she said.

"And I really wanted to be the one to bring it back.

"On top of that, you're in Austria, the ski nation by excellence. It's the atmosphere around these world championships that make them really special.

"And it makes you want to be recognised here more than anywhere else."

The victory was that much sweeter after a super-G debacle for the French women in Tuesday's opening world championship race, with a 14th, 22nd and 27th place.

"But downhill is another discipline, it's a new day," said Rolland.

"I told myself a gold medal was up for grabs in this race and if I really wanted, it was now or never.

"So I had to give it my all and not let go. And I did quite well," she said.

Fanchini, whose last World Cup podium was over three years ago, was also inspired by her compatriot Dominik Paris' silver in the men's downhill but surprised herself by finishing on the podium.

"Yesterday, I said: 'Tomorrow there'll be another Italian medal', but I didn't think it would be me," she said, favouring instead her sister Elena and compatriot Sofia Goggia.

"It was a fantastic day for me. It's a big dream and I'm really happy because I didn't expect it, I wasn't a favourite."

Hoefl-Riesch, who overcame a poor season to grab her second medal at these world championships after super-combined gold on Friday, was full of admiration for her fellow podium finishers.

"Nadia and Marion did a great job. They skied the technical part so smoothly and perfectly," said the former overall World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion.

"It's always really nice to see when girls are fighting hard to come back and get their success back.

"All of us had bad knee injuries already so it was an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) podium, with many torn ACLs," she laughed.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130210/alpine-skiing-rolland-rides-french-medal-wave-gold