Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vonn gets a Swiss bump in the World Cup poll

Cuche wins another DH, this one Kandahar

A visit to St. Moritz, Switzerland was a productive one last weekend for U.S. Ski Team star Lindsey Vonn.

Overall Audi FIS World Cup women's leader before the three-race series at St. Moritz, the 27-year-old Vonn increased her lead even further after winning Friday's super combined, making Saturday's downhill and posting a second-place finish in Sunday's second Swiss combined.

Overall women's leader Lindsey Vonn, 27, of the U.S. Ski Team is enjoying continued success in Audi FIS World Cup technical alpine races.

Despite missing the top step in combined Sunday and just missing a three-race Swiss sweep, Vonn boosted her overall point total to 1,250 for a commanding 387-point lead over Tina Maze of Slovenia.

It's only the first of February, but Vonn is creeping up on the 1,725 points she amassed last season in finishing a close second to Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch (1,728) in the final World Cup women's standings.

Vonn, by winning the World Cup this winter, would break a logjam in the second-place category of most all-time career World Cup overall titles. Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell leads with six titles from 1971-79, while Vonn is tied with three others in second place, with three.

Collecting her 48th and 49th career World Cup victories, Vonn earned 280 points for the three-race series, compared to 195 for Maze and 190 for last season's overall champion Hoefl-Rieschl.

Vonn leads the downhill standings 430-240 over Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, and also leads the super giant slalom standings 313-226 over Fabienne Suter of Switzerland and the combined standings 180-125 over Maze.

For the men, last year's World Cup overall winner Ivica Kostelic, 32, of Croatia stretched his overall lead from 30 points to 80 points over Marcel Hirscher, 22, of Austria.

And 37-year-old Didier Cuche of Switzerland won Saturday's downhill at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germ.

It was Cuche's 20th World Cup victory in a career spanning from 1993-2012, and it came one week after Cuche captured his record-setting fifth Hahnenkamm downhill victory at Kitzbuehel, Aust. The reigning World Cup downhill and super giant slalom king, Cuche took over the lead in this year's DH standings. He was second to Kostelic in last season's overall standings.

Here are top World Cup standings and top Americans after the five events (2 men, 3 women) at St. Moritz and Garmisch-Partenkirchen last weekend:

Men: 1—Ivica Kostelic (Cro.) 905 points. 2—Marcel Hirscher (Aust.) 825. 3—Beat Feux (Switz.) 673. 4—Ted Ligety (USA) 578. 5—Didier Cuche (Switz.), 543, downhill leader 377-308 over Beat Feux. 8—Bode Miller (USA) 450.

Women: 1—Lindsey Vonn (USA) 1,250 points. 2—Tina Maze (Slov.) 863. 3—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 696. 4—Elisabeth Goergl (Aust.) 598. 5—Anna Fenninger (Aust.) 567. 6—Marlies Schild (Aust.) 548. 7—Julia Mancuso (USA) 487.

The women's World Cup moves to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for downhill and super giant slalom this coming weekend. Men shift to Chamonix, Fra. for two downhills and a super combined.

Big weekend for Vonn at St. Moritz

Olympic downhill champion Vonn torched the St. Moritz speed track for a 1.42-second margin of victory and her career 49th Audi FIS Alpine World Cup win.

It was Vonn's eighth win of the season, second in two days, and extended her World Cup overall lead to 352 points over Slovenia's Tina Maze. Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley, Ca. was fifth and Leanne Smith of North Conway, N.H. seventh as three Yanks crowded the top 10.

Vonn's 24th World Cup downhill victory tied the 27-year-old native Minnesotan with Austria's Renate Goetschl for second place on the all-time downhill wins list. It was Vonn's first victory in the St. Moritz downhill.

She said, "I've struggled in St. Moritz in the past and for some reason have always made major mistakes and have never won a downhill here. Today I just tried to stay really relaxed. I knew where I had to execute the line and I think I did that.

"It feels pretty special to tie Renate for downhill wins, but [Annemarie] Moser-Proell still has a lot more than I do, so I have a long ways to go. She pretty much dominated so I have my work cut out for me.

"As a team, we're on a roll and it's fun to see all the girls so excited and skiing so well. Every day all of the girls on this team have a chance to be on the podium."

Friday, Vonn won the first super combined of the season, in bluebird St. Moritz. It meant she has won in every discipline this season except for slalom. She said, "St. Moritz is a great hill for super combined. I felt like I had a really good downhill run, but I was a little bit nervous. I didn't think I had enough time ahead of the slalom girls, but I put together a solid slalom run to hang onto the lead.

"I'm more confident this year in slalom. My equipment is working really well and I feel surer of myself. A lot of times if I don't have a lot of training in slalom, I lack confidence and you can see it in my body language when I'm skiing. But today I knew what I had to do. I knew where I had to be smart and use good tactics on the pitch and then let it go on the flats.

"There was a really solid American contingency here. We actually had some banners in the finish and a big American flag. It was cool to see the American support."

On Sunday in the second combined event in three days at St. Moritz, Vonn came within .03 of a three-race sweep to finish second in Sunday's super combined behind defending Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany. It was Riesch's first victory of the season, and it vaulted her into third place overall.

Cuche reigns at Garmisch

Swiss juggernaut Didier Cuche climbed into the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill lead with victory in a fog- shortened Garmisch downhill Saturday. In doing so, reigning World Cup downhill and super giant slalom king Cuche, 37, took over this year's DH point lead and notched his 20th career World Cup triumph.

The Garmisch DH was staged one week after Cuche won the weather-shortened Hahnenkamm DH at Kitzbuehel, Austria and thus became the all-time leader in Hahnenkamm DH victories, with five. He announced recently he will retire at the end of the 2011-12 World Cup season.

American Bode Miller, 34, placed 35th, despite starting after racer No. 45. Miller was slated to start No. 16, but he was sanctioned for arriving late to the previous evening bib draw.

On Sunday, thick fog blanketed the Kandahar speed track at Garmisch forcing the jury to cancel the World Cup super giant slalom. It was the second super G canceled in a week after the Kitzbuehel, Austria race was also scrapped due to weather. No decision on possible reschedules for either race has been made.

Night slalom at Schladming

American Ted Ligety of Park City battled huge ruts and continuous snowfall to finish sixth in the Schladming night slalom Jan. 24 in front of 45,000 raucous fans as Austrian hometown hero Marcel Hirscher won.

It was Ligety's best slalom finish since January of 2011 and launched him back into fourth in the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall standings. Hirscher prevailed for his sixth win of the season, all in technical events.

Heavy snow fell throughout the first and second runs creating challenging race conditions. It was the first World Cup start for Seppi Stiegler of Jackson Hole, Wyo. He is the younger brother of women's alpine Olympian Resi Stiegler. Seppi did not qualify for the final.

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