Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving World Cups held at Aspen and Lake Louise

Career bests for Sullivan, Lanning and Vonn

Sun Valley native Hailey Duke battles to a career best 21st place in Sunday’s World Cup slalom at Aspen, Colo. She earned her first-ever World Cup points. Photo by Getty Images-Doug Pensinger

It was an eventful Thanksgiving weekend on the 2008-09 Audi FIS World Cup ski racing tour.

World Cup women competed in the Aspen (Colo.) Winternational giant slalom and slaloms. The men turned on the afterburners at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada for downhill and super giant slalom speed debuts.

In Sunday's men's SG, Austria's Hermann Maier captured his 54th World Cup victory (24th SG). The U.S. Ski Team's Marco Sullivan, 28, of Squaw Valley, Ca. finished a personal-best SG, tying for fifth place.

Also posting personal-best placings were reigning World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn, 24, with a career-best fourth GS in Saturday's Aspen giant slalom, and Park City's TJ Lanning, 24, with a personal-best ninth in Saturday's Lake Louise DH.

Sun Valley native Hailey Duke, 23, of Boise was thrilled with Sunday's slalom—her personal World Cup best. Duke, a Park City Ski Education Foundation racer, finished 21st for her first World Cup points.

Duke said, "It isn't just one thing that comes together. You just keep plugging away and you figure out the little things—like your hands need to be up, get your butt forward, and eventually you figure it out."

Her new level of success should help her out in races to come, Duke said. "Now I have World Cup points and I know I can do it," she said. "I just have more motivation to just keep at it. I have it under my belt and I can kind of throw myself down the hill. I can let it go a little bit more and see what happens."

Meanwhile, World Cup slalom leader Vonn ranks second in overall standings after four technical races. Vonn has 229 points, 31 behind leader Tanja Poutianinen of Finland.

Reigning World Cup men's king Bode Miller, 30, of New Hampshire was 16th in Saturday's Lake Louise downhill and DNFd Sunday's SG.

After four races, Miller stands in fourth place overall with 121 points. The leader is Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland with 156 points.

Next up: The men descend on Beaver Creek, Colo. today through Sunday, Dec. 7 for the Audi Birds of Prey (combined, DH, GS, SG). The women open their speed season at Lake Louise with two DHs and SG.

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