Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vonn (10 wins) doubles at St. Anton, surpasses Picabo

World Cup DH and combined winner

Express Staff Writer

Lindsey Vonn from Burnsville, Minn., current World Cup overall and downhill leader. U.S. Ski Team photo

Two-time Olympian Lindsey Vonn, 23, of Vail, Colo. said she skied "on the edge" but she also nailed the bottom of a women's downhill run Friday, Dec. 21 at St. Anton, Austria for her ninth career World Cup alpine win.

Vonn, who changed her name from Kildow in September after marrying 2002 Olympian Thomas Vonn, added a combined downhill/slalom victory Saturday at St. Anton.

The back-to-back pre-Christmas victories lifted native Minnesota skier Vonn (10 World Cup wins) past her idol Picabo Street (9) into second place on the all-time U.S. women's World Cup win list.

With 474 points Vonn also took over the World Cup overall women's lead by 55 points over Austria's defending World Cup overall queen Nicole Hosp.

It's been quite a start for Vonn, whose World Cup season last winter ended four weeks early with a knee sprain. She ended up third in both the downhill and super giant slalom standings and sixth overall, 764 points behind Hosp.

Vonn's triumph on what was the men's downhill course used in the 2001 FIS World Championships at St. Anton, Austria extended her downhill points lead to 106 points in the 2007-08 Audi FIS Women's World Cup.

Such an outstanding result on a very challenging downhill run tied Vonn with Sun Valley's Hall of Famer Street for second in career World Cup wins among U.S. women behind leader Tamara McKinney.

McKinney, 45, still the only U.S. woman to win a Women's World Cup overall championship, captured 18 World Cup wins in slalom and giant slalom from 1981-87. McKinney won her overall title in 1983 to go with season discipline wins in GS (1981, 1983) and SL (1984).

Street, 36, a native of Triumph who was the 1998 Olympic super giant slalom gold medalist, captured nine World Cup downhill wins from 1994-96 helping her to World Cup season downhill titles in the 1995 and 1996 racing seasons.

Julia Mancuso, 23, of Olympic Valley, Ca. placed third Friday on the challenging men's speed track from the 2001 World Championships. She added a third place in Saturday's super combined.

Friday's St. Anton podium was a North American "sandwich." Vonn's win came in a time of 1:32.00. Second place over the 2.2-kilometer course went to Kelly VanderBeek of Canada in 1:32.36. Mancuso survived a near-spill at the bottom to finish in 1:32.38.

Vonn led the second training run after being fourth in the first training last Tuesday, but she said she struggled at the start of the actual race—although she had the fastest first split time. She regrouped coming through the bottom section.

She started #43 in difficult light.

"I don't know what happened at the top, just screwy mistakes, but then I was all over the place in the middle—caught an edge, a little bobble, did some funny stuff. It was a crazy ride. I was out of control the whole way," said Vonn.

"But I knew the bottom section was critical and where you could win or lose it," she added. "It just shows that if you keep fighting and you're determined, you can find success.

"It was a pretty difficult course, and it kind of reminded me of Aspen. You never can stay in your tuck, you're always going, going over a roll or something else—no big jumps but a lot of drama and activity."

It was a little reminiscent of Vonn's silver-medal performance at the 2007 Worlds last February in Are, Sweden. She had a mid-race bobble and "turned my brain off" to shred the bottom of the run and collect her second silver medal of the World Championships.

Early in Vonn's career, when she raced as Lindsey Kildow, Street was her idol and they remain good friends. Vonn's 10 wins are seven in downhill, two in super G and one in combined.

After four downhills, Vonn has 330 points to 224 for Canadian Britt Janyk, who won Dec. 8 at the Audi Aspen Winternational in Colorado. Vonn won the Lake Louise DH opener Dec. 1, was fourth at Aspen and second at St. Moritz, Switz.

The men's tour continues Saturday, Dec. 29 with the traditional holiday downhill in Bormio, Italy. The women resume Dec. 28-29 with GS and slalom at Lienz, Austria.

Women's and men's leaders and top Americans:

Women's overall (13 events): 1—Lindsey Vonn 474 points. 2—Nicole Hosp (Aust.) 419 points. 6—Julia Mancuso 364.

Women's downhill: 1—Lindsey Vonn 330. 2—Britt Janyk (Can.) 224. 8—Julia Mancuso 121.

Women's slalom: 1—Nicole Hosp 225. 6—Resi Stiegler 111.

Women's giant slalom: 1—Denise Karbon (Italy) 200. 3—Julia Mancuso 106.

Women's super giant slalom: 1—Anja Paerson 136. 12—Julia Mancuso 50.

Women's super combined: 1—Lindsey Vonn 100. 3—Julia Mancuso 60.

Men's overall (14 events): 1—Benjamin Raich (Aust.) 521 points. 2—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 453. 4—Ted Ligety (U.S.) 335. 7—Bode Miller 306.

Men's downhill: 1—Michael Walchhofer (Aust.) 286. 5—Steven Nyman (U.S.) 96. 7—Bode Miller 83.

Men's slalom: 1—Jean-Baptiste Grange (Fra.) 176. 15—Ted Ligety 60.

Men's giant slalom: 1—Ted Ligety 235. 2—Benjamin Raich 212. 12—Bode Miller 81.

Men's super giant slalom: 1—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 184. 11—Bode Miller 87.

Men's super combined: 1—Daniel Albrecht (Switz.) 100. 4—Bode Miller 50.

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