Rebensburg leads Germans at WCup GS; Vonn 18th |

Rebensburg leads Germans at WCup GS; Vonn 18th

Eric Willemsen
Associated Press Writer
Vail, Colorado
Lindsey Vonn of the United States passes a gate during the first run of an alpine ski, Women's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Armando Trovati)

SOELDEN, Austria – Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg led a German 1-2 finish Saturday at the season-opening World Cup giant slalom, while defending overall champion Lindsey Vonn was 18th.

Rebensburg finished in a combined time of 2 minutes, 26.39 seconds on the Rettenbach glacier to beat giant slalom world champion Kathrin Hoelzl. Manuela Moelgg of Italy was third.

Maria Riesch, who shared second with Rebensburg after the opening run, was fifth. Julia Mancuso of the United States was 12th.

Sarah Schleper, of Vail, finished in a tie for 19th.

Because of relatively high temperatures, conditions on the usually icy glacier were bumpy.

Vonn nearly lost balance in a left turn after 30 seconds in her opening run when her right ski came well up in the air.

“It was hard, it was not icy and it was not grippy there,” said Vonn, who finished 3.28 seconds behind the leader. “It wasn’t my best day. I was expecting a lot more.”

Rebensburg earned her first World Cup victory and only her second time on the podium.

“It’s incredible, I can’t believe this happened at the first race,” Rebensburg said. “It’s nice I could prove that the Olympics were not a coincidence.”

Hoelzl said she was disappointed about losing her lead after the first run.

“But I am happy for Vicky and it’s great the victory landed in our team,” she said. “The race was very difficult, it just didn’t feel good skiing down there.”

Kathrin Zettel of Austria, who reached the podium in Soelden in each of the past three years, finished seventh.

Vonn said she didn’t attack the course.

“I was just not skiing like myself,” she said. “I was pretty conservative, not attacking. Especially on this course, it takes aggressive skiing. You really have to charge and throw yourself down there. I didn’t really do that.”

Vonn said she was already looking forward to the races next month in Aspen, Colo.

“I am still confident for the season, and I will look a lot better in Aspen for sure,” she said.

Mancuso, skiing in her first race after switching ski supplier, was satisfied with her opening runs.

“I had a few mistakes but it was good … I skied solid and it’s a good start,” said Mancuso, an Olympic giant slalom champion. “The first run I skied more conservative, and the second I went for it more.”

Austria’s Nicole Hosp and Switzerland’s Lara Gut made their return to the World Cup circuit after missing the entire Olympic season with injuries. Hosp, the 2003 overall champion, failed to qualify for the second run, while Gut finished 25th overall.

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