Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bode clinches World Cup combined title, grabs 30th win

Vonn in top five at St. Moritz

Express Staff Writer

Lindsey Vonn screams down the pitch in a super G World Cup in St. Moritz, Switz.

A day of changing weather Saturday at fashionable St. Moritz, Switz. may have prevented World Cup women's downhill leader Lindsey Vonn, 23, from posting her fourth World Cup DH victory of the season.

But two-time Olympian Vonn rode through light snow to finish fifth in Saturday's DH and added a fourth place in Sunday's super giant slalom to pull within 89 points of defending World Cup overall champion Nicole Hosp of Austria after 25 events on the 2007-08 Audi FIS Women's World Cup circuit.

After six DHs Vonn padded her World Cup downhill lead to 475-273 over defending champion Renate Goetschl of Austria. Last winter Goetschl (705) was a big winner, with American's Julia Mancuso (536) second in DH and Vonn (390) third.

Vonn's best-ever World Cup downhill finish was second place to 2006 Olympic DH queen Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria in 2005-06. Dorfmeister had 498 to Vonn's 410.

"Lindsey is just on a different level right now, skiing so well and with so much confidence," head coach Patrick Riml said. "Unfortunately, when Lindsey was running today the light was not the best. It was dark. She just couldn't see the bumps. They caught her off balance a couple of times, but she skied amazingly well, making a couple of great saves."

The winner, starting 47th, was Slovenian Tina Maze, who hadn't even cracked the top 10 in DH.

At Val d'Isere, France, the indomitable Bode Miller of Team America couldn't be stopped Sunday.

Three-time Olympian Miller, 30, led the downhill portion of a super combined Sunday and went on to capture his fifth victory of the season. He clinched the World Cup combined title for his fourth career alpine discipline championship.

"Bode put on quite a clinic in the downhill," U.S. head coach Phil McNichol said. "He can be crafty and he really schooled everyone today. He gave up a lot of time to (Ivica) Kostelic in the slalom but he held on to win. He got it done."

Saturday's Val d'Isere downhill had been postponed by heavy snows. Course workers moved tons of snow to enable Sunday's combi to proceed.

Miller, now with 410 points in combined for a 154-point lead, has won the last three combined events at Kitzbuehel, Aust., Chamonix, Fra. and Val d'Isere. It was the 30th career World Cup victory—tying Miller with Benjamin Raich of Austria for sixth place on the all-time World Cup men's victory list.

The 6-2, 210-pound renegade from Bretton Woods, N.H. and Carrabassett Valley Academy broke out of a seventh-place tie with Austria's Stephan Eberharter. Here's the list:

Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden leads with 86 wins, Hermann Maier of Austria has 53, Alberto Tomba of Italy 50, Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg 46, Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland 40, Miller and Benjamin Raich 30 and Eberharter 29.

Miller's 30-win career shows nine GS wins plus six in downhill, five in super giant slalom, five in slalom, and five more in combined.

Bode extended his World Cup overall lead to 1067 points, 122 ahead of last year's overall runner-up and 2006 king Raich (945).

Miller has won one other World Cup overall title, during the 2004-05 season by a 1648-1454 margin over Raich. In that season Bode became the first American man to win the overall title since Phil Mahre, World Cup king from 1981-83.

As they head into the final month of racing, the men race slalom next Saturday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The women race next on the men's 2006 Olympic Borgata speed track in Sestriere, Italy. They have downhill Saturday, Feb. 9 and a super giant slalom Sunday, Feb. 10.

Current men's and women's leaders and top Americans are listed:

Men's overall: 1—Bode Miller (Team America) 1067. 2—Benjamin Raich (Aust.) 945 points. 3—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 882. 6—Ted Ligety (U.S.) 576.

Men's downhill: 1—Didier Cuche 464. 2—Bode Miller 399. 3—Michael Walchhofer (Aust.) 343. 4—Marco Sullivan (U.S.) 278.

Men's slalom: 1—Jean-Baptiste Grange (Fra.) 456. 2—Mario Matt (Aust.) 305. 8—Ted Ligety 202.

Men's giant slalom: 1—Daniel Albrecht (Switz.) 258. 2—Benjamin Raich 248. 4—Ted Ligety 235.

Men's super giant slalom: 1—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 244. 2—Benjamin Raich 197. 10—Bode Miller 109.

Men's combined: 1—Bode Miller 410. 2—Ivica Kostelic (Cro.) 256. 7—Ted Ligety 131.

Women's overall: 1—Nicole Hosp (Aust.) 957 points. 2—Lindsey Vonn (U.S.) 868 points. 3—Maria Riesch (Germ.) 781. 6—Julia Mancuso 709.

Women's downhill: 1—Lindsey Vonn 475. 2—Renate Goetschl (Aust.) 273. 3—Britt Janyk (Can.) 264. 9—Julia Mancuso 163.

Women's slalom: 1—Nicole Hosp 465. 12—Resi Stiegler (U.S.) 111.

Women's giant slalom: 1—Denise Karbon (Italy) 560. 4—Julia Mancuso 253. 15—Lindsey Vonn 104.

Women's super giant slalom: 1—Maria Riesch (Germ.) 274. 2—Emily Brydon (Can.) 254. 8—Julia Mancuso 170. 9—Lindsey Vonn 167.

Women's combined: 1—Lindsey Vonn 100. 2—Maria Riesch 80. 3—Julia Mancuso 60.

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