Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vonn soars over 1,700 on World Cup

Stiegler earns first podium

Lindsey Vonn, 27, of Vail, Colo. already has three Audi FIS World Cup discipline championships in her pocket for the 2011-12 season.

She's on the verge of her fourth overall World Cup title. She possibly could break the women's record for most points accumulated during a season.

On Saturday, Vonn produced a scorching final run of giant slalom to finish second in spring-like Ofterschwang, Germany and boost her Audi FIS Alpine World Cup point total to 1,708. The women's season point record is 1,970 set by Croatian Janica Kostelic in 2006. The men's record is 2,000 set by Maier in 2000. And there are six races left in the season.

German Viktoria Rebensburg won for the second straight day and leads Vonn in the GS standings by 135 points with two discipline races left on the calendar.

With her podium, Vonn became the first skier to produce four World Cup seasons with 15 or more podiums, breaking a tie she held with Austrian great Hermann Maier.

Vonn said, "This is only my third career giant slalom podium. I'm really proud of the way I skied the second run.

"I was almost 1.70 behind Vicki after the first run so in the second and I knew that my coach has set the second run. He set a course that was open and straighter and I went for the fastest line. I went for the most direct line possible and risked a lot and was able to make up a lot of time. I was thinking I could maybe get the win when Vicki had trouble on the bottom, but she was just too strong today."

"I have been thinking about the 2,000-point mark since about the St. Moritz races. I am not focusing too much on it, but it is definitely in the back of my mind. This year the tech races have been going well and now am second in the giant slalom standings. To me, that is a huge accomplishment."

There are six races left in the season for the men and women including all four disciplines in the World Cup Finals March 14-18 at Schladming, Austria.

First of all, the World Cup women compete in giant slalom and slalom March 9-10 at Are, Sweden. The men have GS and SL March 10-11 at Kranska Gora, Slovenia.

Here are World Cup standings and top Americans after the six events (3 men, 3 women) at Ofterschwang, Germany and Kvitfjell, Norway last weekend:

Women: 1—Lindsey Vonn (USA) 1,708 points. 2—Tina Maze (Slov.) 1,214. 3—Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germ.) 1,075. 4—Elisabeth Goergl (Aust.) 914. 5—Julia Mancuso (USA) 823.

Men: 1—Beat Feux (Switz.) 1,250. 2—Marcel Hirscher (Aust.) 1,135. 3—Ivica Kostelic (Cro.) 1,043 points. 4—Aksel Lund Svindal (Nor.) 999. 5—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 953. 10—Ted Ligety (USA) 674, trails the GS standings 545-413 to Hirscher. 11—Bode Miller (USA) 612.

Women in Germany, men in Norway

Torino Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley, Ca. was ninth and Vonn 10th Friday at an Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom held on incredibly soft snow conditions in bluebird southern Bavaria.

Temperatures soared into the high 40's at Ofterschwang, Germany as local Viktoria Rebensburg clocked the wire-to-wire victory and reclaimed the World Cup giant slalom points lead.

On Sunday, Resi Stiegler of Jackson Hole, Wyo. celebrated a heroic return to the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup elite with second in the Ofterschwang slalom for the first podium of her injury-riddled career behind first time winner Erin Mielzynski of Canada.

Stiegler suffered a broken left arm and right shinbone during a Dec. 2007 crash in Lienz, Austria then returned to racing in 2009 with 19th in slalom at the World Championships in France. Another series of minor injuries led to a brutal training crash in Nov. 2009 forcing her to miss the Vancouver Olympic Games. She returned full-time to racing the following winter and began training vigorously leading to her historic first podium.

The men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill title was pushed to the wire Saturday as Austrian Klaus Kroell snagged the discpline lead from Swiss Didier Cuche with a victory on the 1994 Olympic track at Kvitfjell.

With just one downhill remaining on March 14 at World Cup Finals in Schladming, Austria, Kroell carries a 48-point lead over Cuche, who finished 10th on the day. Another Swiss, Beat Feuz, was fourth to bump his overall lead to 55 points ahead of Marcel Hircher of Austria, who did not compete. Travis Ganong of Squaw Valley, Ca. was the top U.S. finisher in 30th.

The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup tour produced a rare double win Friday as Austrian Klaus Kroell tied Beat Feuz of Switzerland for a super G win in Kvitfjell. Olympic SG bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid, N.Y. posted the top U.S. result with 28th.

For the Americans, Bode Miller (knee) is out for the rest of the season and Ted Ligety chose not to race in Norway in favor of giant slalom and slalom training. The race was a reschedule from a canceled January super G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

On Sunday, Weibrecht rallied a bib No. 1 start into a trip to the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals Sunday after finishing 23rd behind a Norwegian 1-2 from Kjetil Jansrud and Aksel Lund Svindal in the Kvitfjell super G.

Only the top 25 racers in each discipline qualify for the March 14-18 finals at Schladming. Weibrecht matched his finish in the standings.

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