Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vonn adds SG title to trophy case

Third discipline crown this season

Record-setting American alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, 27, is piling up Audi FIS World Cup wins and discipline titles.

Sunday, Vonn added the super giant slalom season championship to her trophy case.

She has already won the downhill and combined titles—and the month of March still isn't here.

At Bansko, Bulgaria, Vonn made up an astounding .61-second deficit on the bottom half of a bumpy speed track to notch a historic 18th career super G win and pass Austrian Renate Goetschl in the women's World Cup tour record books.

Vonn's victory, her 10th this season, rocketed the native Minnesotan from Vail, Colo. to a 94-point discipline lead going into the season's last race at World Cup Finals. It boosted her overall World Cup lead total to 528 points with just nine races left on the calendar.

Last week, in two World Cup events, Vonn added 160 points to her season total to stretch her massive lead. And Julia Mancuso tacked on 172 points to move from sixth place to fifth place.

In Sunday's SG, Mancuso placed 8th, Leanne Smith 18th, Laurenne Ross 24th and Stacey Cook 29th. Already, Vonn, Mancuso and Smith have qualified in super G for the March 11-18 World Cup Finals at Schladming, Austria.

Afterward, Vonn said, "I didn't know I had passed Renate for super G wins. That definitely feels good. I think that's the only record that I'm at the top of for World Cup.

"There's a lot of giant slalom races left so I'm looking forward to hopefully get another win this season to try and get the giant slalom globe. But today was big points for the super G title and again for the overall title. Things are shaping up really well."

The World Cup tour moves to Ofterschwang, Germany for slalom and two giant slalom races.

Head U.S. coach Alex Hoedlmoser said, "Lindsey and Julia will join the tech team in Ofterschwang later this week for two giant slalom races and a slalom, but the other ahletes will head home for a break before World Cup Finals. It's a huge accomplishment to have so many qualify for finals, so they'll get some rest and then head back over for a training camp before Schladming."

Vonn's win was the second of the week for the Americans.

Last Tuesday at Moscow, Russia, Mancuso, 27, of Squaw Valley, Ca. ripped through the head-to-head style parallel slalom to win under the lights for her second Audi FIS Alpine World Cup win this season.

One of 16 women in the field, Vonn added another 60 points to her immense overall World Cup lead with third place on the 170-foot tall ramp built in Luznhiki Olympic Complex as thousands of fans braved the frigid Moscow temperatures.

The event, presented by Soelden, the official European Training base of the U.S. Ski Team, capped a brilliant two-week competitive showcase of alpine skiing in Russia, host country for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

In the bracket-style competition, Vonn came back from a .30-second deficit after the first run and ousted German Maria Hoefl-Riesch to take third and earn 60 points toward the overall title. Mancuso knocked out Vonn in the semifinal and Austrian Mikaela Kirchgasser in the final to win.

Frenchman Alexis Pinterault won the men's Moscow night slalom as American Ted Ligety was knocked out in the first round.

Saturday's Bansko women's downhill was canceled by heavy winds. Here are World Cup standings and top Americans after the six events (4 men, 2 women) in Bulgaria, Moscow and at Crans Montana, Switz. last week and weekend:

Women: 1—Lindsey Vonn (USA) 1,602 points. 2—Tina Maze (Slov.) 1,074. 3—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 1,046. 4—Elisabeth Goergl (Aust.) 822. 5—Julia Mancuso (USA) 794.

Men: 1—Marcel Hirscher (Aust.) 1,135. 2—Ivica Kostelic (Cro.) 1,043 points. 3—Beat Feux (Switz.) 1,040. 4—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 837. 5—Aksel Lund Svindal (Nor.) 814. 8—Ted Ligety (USA) 674, trails the GS standings 545-413 to Hirscher. 10—Bode Miller (USA) 612.

Men at Crans Montana

On Friday, Olympic super G bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid, N.Y. placed 24th in the first of two Audi FIS Alpine World Cup super G races held in sun-soaked Crans Montana as Swiss Didier Cuche earned the 21st win of his career.

The race, held under blue sky and spring like tempuratures was a reschedule from the snow- and fog-scrapped Kitzbuehel, Austria super G in early January. Ligety placed 28th and Tommy Biesemeyer of Keene, N.Y. earned the first World Cup points of his career with 30th.

On Saturday, Weibrecht sliced the Crans Montana soft snow for 20th in the second Audi FIS Alpine World Cup super G as Austrian Benni Raich earned the first super G victory of his storied career.

Ligety produced another point scoring result with 22nd and young gun Ryan Cochran-Siegle of Starksboro, Vt. was 26th for the second World Cup points of his career. Bode Miller did not start in favor of resting a sore left knee.

Unfortunately Ligety couldn't climb the podium result at Crans Montana Sunday in his chase for the GS title.

Ligety, 27, of Park City, Utah fought through incredibly soft snow conditions that slowed the American tech ace to ninth place in the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom at Crans Montana won by Italian Massimiliano Blardone.

After leading the GS standings for the first half of the season, Ligety is now 132 points behind Austrian Marcel Hirscher with two giant slalom races left. Hirscher, who was second in the race, also leads the World Cup overall standings by 92 points.

The men's World Cup tour now moves to Kvitfjell, Norway for a pair of super G races and a downhill.

U.S. head coach Sasha Rearick said, "Ted is going to skip Kvitfjell, take a couple of days break to rest from these crazy last few weeks, then he's going to train slalom and giant slalom the week prior to Kranjska Gora. He is not skiing with the tremendous cleanliness and crispness that we know he can ski with. Over the rolls here, he just wasn't skiing with a lot of confidence."

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