From the U.S. Ski Team
In a winter when the success of the U.S. Ski Team was astounding, Lindsey Vonn, 25, of Vail, Colo. and Ted Ligety, 25, of Park City, Utah capped it off with some of the most prestigious awards in skiing—Audi FIS World Cup titles.
During last week's World Cup Finals at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Vonn captured the overall women's crown plus three other titles, while Ligety won his second giant slalom title in three years.
Vonn, the reigning Olympic downhill queen, became the most decorated American skier ever. She is also only the third woman in the 43-year history of the World Cup to win three overall titles in a row.
This winter, Vonn earned three discipline titles in downhill, super G and super combined, and thus became the first American to win three discipline titles in the same season.
She became the first woman to win three straight overall titles since Petra Kronberger of Austria in 1990-92. The only other woman to win three in a row was Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell, who captured five in a row from 1971-75 and tacked on one more title in 1979.
"It's so important to me. The overall title is one of the biggest things you can win in our sport. I always try to give my best every day, but it's a long season," said Vonn.
"The last few years have gone really well for me. It's so hard to say whether you'll be able to win the overall title. To stand here in the finish and have a title in my hand is so rewarding."
Only two other women have as many overall titles as Vonn—Vreni Schneider of Switzerland (1994-95 and 1989) and Janica Kostelic of Croatia (2001, 2003 and 2006).
Vonn broke another record this season with her 11 World Cup wins—breaking her own U.S. records of nine set last season. She now holds the U.S. record for World Cup wins with 33 passing the 32 of Bode Miller, 32, of Franconia, N.H.
Only one skier in the world ever had more World Cup wins in a season—Schneider with 14 in the 1988-89 season. Moser-Proell and Anja Paerson of Sweden also have 11.
Finally, Vonn's career wins (33) put her in a tie for sixth place on the all-time list with Hanni Wenzel of Liechtenstein (33), and Moser-Proell leads that list with 62. Next up on the list: Katja Seizinger of Germany (36) and Paerson of Sweden (40).
Vonn said, "It means the world to me. If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if I'd have been able to do that, I would have said 'not likely.' It takes a lot of hard work, not only by me, but also from the team, from U.S. Ski Team coaches, from my husband, from Red Bull and my ski company Head. It's everyone working together to make as successful a season as possible and I couldn't do it without them."
Ligety brought the U.S. its only crystal globe in the 2009-10 men's World Cup to mark his career second giant slalom title after winning his first in 2008.
With his success, Ligety joins Phil Mahre as the only U.S. men to have two World Cup giant slalom titles. Ligety earned the honor with four podiums in discipline this season, including one win, at Kransjka Gora, Slovenia Jan. 29. He notched his first super G podium with second at Val d'Isere in December.
"Having two globes is awesome," Ligety said. "It's cool to have those and to be the best in giant slalom over the last couple of years is nice."
On the men's side, Miller took in the trifecta of Olympic medals with a bronze in downhill, silver in super G and gold in super combined. Miller was joined on the super G podium by Andrew Weibrecht, 24, of Lake Placid, N.Y. who took the bronze.
With the season now closed, the alpine team will return to the U.S. to train this summer in preparation for the 2010-11 World Cup season opener at Soelden, Austria and the 2011 World Championships in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germ.
Finals at Garmisch
Olympic Champion Vonn locked in yet another accolade this season as she clinched her third straight Audi FIS World Cup overall title with a stunning super G victory Friday.
Vonn's title came just an hour before her U.S. Ski Team teammate Ligety clinched his second GS crystal globe in three years.
"I was so nervous because the overall title was on the line. To win the last race of the season and to break the U.S. record of 32 U.S. wins—I'm so happy. I'm ecstatic," Vonn said. "It's been an amazing season—and definitely a long one."
Vonn had placed her name on the overall globe before her skis even left the start house on Friday. In order to take home the globe friend and competitor Maria Riesch of Germany would have needed to finish first or second in the race.
But as Vonn readied herself to ski, Riesch was bumped to third by Swiss Nadia Styger, skiing three spots of the American. But that didn't stop Vonn from wanting to pull in another win for 2010.
"I knew what place Maria was in, so I knew the World Cup overall was already secured. But I still wanted to go out there and have a good end to the season," Vonn said. "I'm just really happy I had a good run and was able to end the season well."
Last winter, Vonn was 364 points ahead of runner-up Riesch in the overall rankings. Riesch cut that gap to 155 points this winter mainly because she was 368 points ahead of Vonn in winning the slalom title. Vonn was third behind Riesch last winter, but she slipped 315 points in slalom this time around—causing Vonn to make it up in downhill, where she improved from 502 to 725.
Meanwhile, Ligety's GS title is his second in three years, having won in 2008. Phil Mahre is the only other American man to win two, taking back-to-back titles in 1982 and 1983.
Carlo Janka of Switzerland won Friday's giant slalom and locked up his first overall World Cup title with the win.
With a narrow 43-point lead in the giant slalom standings going into Friday's race, Ligety said things fell into place for him to beat his toughest challengers for the title.
Ligety had a solid first run and, after falling slightly behind at the third interval, he picked up the pace in the second run to tie for third in the giant slalom race with Austrian Philipp Schoerghofer.
The 2006 Olympic GS champ, Ligety added the 2010 discipline title to the first he won in 2008. He also capped the year with three consecutive World Cup podiums in GS to bookend a season that began with second in Soelden last October.
Summary of World Cup champions
Here are top overall placings and U.S. points for 2009-10:
Women's overall: 1—Lindsey Vonn (U.S.) 1671. 2—Maria Riesch (Germany) 1516. 3—Anja Paerson (Swe.) 1047 (same 1-2-3 finish as last year). Other U.S. skiers were:
20—Julia Mancuso 359. 54—Sarah Schleper 126. 56—Stacey Cook 120. 59—Alice McKennis 112. 71—Chelsea Marshall 71. 75—Leanne Smith 64. 103—Megan McJames 21. 111—Kaylin Richardson 17. 113—Hailey Duke 14. 115—Laurenne Ross 13. 116—Keely Kelleher 11.
Men's overall: 1—Carlo Janka (Switz.) 1197. 2—Benjamin Raich (Aust.) 1091. 3—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 952. Other U.S. skiers were:
7—Ted Ligety 667. 20—Bode Miller 361. 54—Andrew Weibrecht 152. 65—Marco Sullivan 106. 66—Jimmy Cochran 100. 89 (tie)—Erik Fisher 46 and Steven Nyman 46. 116—Tommy Ford 17. 129—Jake Zamansky 10. 136—Tim Jitloff 9. 138—Scott Macartney 8. 141—Nolan Kasper 7. 149—Travis Ganong 3.
Women's downhill: 1—Lindsey Vonn (U.S.) 725. 2—Maria Riesch (Germ.) 556. 3—Anja Paerson (Swe.) 385. Other U.S. skiers were:
9—Julia Mancuso 176. 17—Stacey Cook 109. 20—Alice McKennis 103. 30—Chelsea Marshall 61. 36—Leanne Smith 39. 46—Laurenne Ross 13.
Men's downhill: 1—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 528. 2—Carlo Janka (Switz.) 448. 3—Werner Heel (Italy) 292. U.S. skiers were:
17—Bode Miller 110. 26—Andrew Weibrecht 78. 29—Marco Sullivan 56. 32—Steven Nyman 46. 36—Erik Fisher 34. 50—Scott Macartney 8.
Women's super giant slalom: 1—Lindsey Vonn (U.S.) 620. 2—Elisabeth Goergl (Aust.) 300. 3—Nadie Styger (Switz.) 291. Other U.S. skiers were:
16—Julia Mancuso 124. 41—Leanne Smith 13. 42—Keely Kelleher 11. 43—Chelsea Marshall 10. 46—Alice McKennis 9. 49—Stacey Cook 7.
Men's super giant slalom: 1—Erik Guay (Can.) 331. 2—Michael Walchhofer (Aust.) 316. 3—Aksel Lund Svindal (Nor.) 314. U.S. skiers were:
14—Ted Ligety 119. 18—Bode Miller 88. 23—Andrew Weibrecht 62. 25—Marco Sullivan 50. 43—Erik Fisher 12. 53—Travis Ganong 3.
Women's super combined: 1—Lindsey Vonn (U.S.) 160. 2—Anja Paerson (Swe.) 150. 3—Michaela Kirchgasser (Aust.) 130. 4—Elisabeth Goergl (Aust.) 110. 5—Maria Riesch (Germ.) 80. Other U.S. skiers were:
22—Julia Mancuso 18. 31—Leanne Smith 12. 33—Kaylin Richardson 9. 39—Stacey Cook 4.
Men's super combined: 1—Benjamin Raich (Aust.) 246. 2—Carlo Janka (Switz.) 216. 3—Ivica Kostelic (Cro.) 172. 4—Silvan Zurbriggen (Switz.) 166. 5—Bode Miller (U.S.) 145. Other U.S. skiers were:
14—Ted Ligety 71. 40—Andrew Weibrecht 12.
Women's giant slalom: 1—Kathrin Hoelzl (Germ.) 471. 2—Kathrin Zettel (Aust.) 394. 3—Tina Maze (Slov.) 372. U.S. skiers were:
20—Sarah Schleper 67. 28 (tie)—Lindsey Vonn 41 and Julia Mancuso 41. 37—Megan McJames 21.
Men's giant slalom: 1—Ted Ligety (U.S.) 412. 2—Carlo Janka (Switz.) 341. 3—Benjamin Raich (Aust.) 331. Other U.S. skiers were:
35—Tommy Ford 17. 45—Jake Zamansky 10. 48—Tim Jitloff 9.
Women's slalom: 1—Maria Riesch (Germ.) 493. 2—Kathrin Zettel (Aust.) 490. 3—Marlies Schild (Aust.) 420. Other U.S. skiers were:
14—Lindsey Vonn 125. 26—Sarah Schleper 59. 47—Hailey Duke 14. 50—Kaylin Richardson 8.
Men's slalom: 1—Reinfried Herbst (Aust.) 534. 2—Julien Lizeroux (Fra.) 512. 3—Silvan Zubriggen (Switz.) 365. Other U.S. skiers:
20—Jimmy Cochran 100. 24—Ted Ligety 65. 43—Bode Miller 18. 56—Nolan Kasper 7.