Vail’s Vonn wins World Cup super-G race in Italy |

Vail’s Vonn wins World Cup super-G race in Italy

Sweden's Anja Paerson, left, second placed, is flanked on podium by the winner Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, and third placed Anna Fenninger, right, of Austria, after an alpine ski, women's World Cup super-G race, in Cortina d' Ampezzo, Italy, Friday, Jan. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Armando Trovati)

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Lindsey Vonn finally put together an error-free run and posted her fifth victory of the season in a super-G on Friday, taking a big chunk out of Maria Riesch’s overall World Cup lead.

Vonn, who has had to make difficult recoveries in several recent races, sped down the shortened Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute, 11.66 seconds.

“All I’m happy about really today is that I had a good, clean run,” Vonn said. “In the past few races I’ve been making mistakes, and today I found a happy balance, a happy medium, and I was able to ski solid and have a good day.”

Swedish standout Anja Paerson finished second, 0.43 seconds behind, to match her best result this season. Anna Fenninger of Austria was 0.47 seconds back in third on an uncharacteristically cold day at Cortina, where the temperature was just 10 degrees on top of the course.

Paerson has been skiing through knee pain for years, and a couple jumps on the top of the hill have always caused her trouble.

“I was a little tentative on top and then pushed really hard on the bottom,” she said. “I was able to straighten out some problems with my equipment since the last speed races. Speed skiing is all about finding the right harmony and feeling and I’m starting to feel good.

“My focus is really on the world championships,” Paerson added, looking ahead to the two-week event next month in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Vonn’s teammate Julia Mancuso made an error toward the end of her run and placed fourth, just 0.13 seconds off the podium, and Swiss teenager Lara Gut finished fifth after winning the previous super-G in Zauchensee, Austria.

Riesch placed ninth and lost 68 points to Vonn in the overall chase. Vonn has a 131-point lead over Riesch in the super-G standings through three races.

Leanne Smith of Conway, N.H., finished eighth for her best career World Cup result. Smith started with the No. 35 bib and her result helped Vonn by bumping Riesch down a spot. Laurenne Ross of Klamath Falls, Ore., was 19th and Stacey Cook of Mammoth, Calif., finshed 21st to fill out a banner day for the U.S. team.

It was Vonn’s fourth victory in Cortina and she’ll be favored again in Saturday’s downhill and in another super-G Sunday. Vonn recorded the first podium finish of her career in Cortina seven years ago and now has nine career top-three finishes at the posh resort in the Dolomite Range. Retired Austrian great Renate Goetschl has the record with 10 career wins in Cortina.

This week didn’t start well for Vonn, however. She nearly wiped out in her opening downhill training run Wednesday, which brought back memories of several more recent recoveries.

In the circuit’s previous downhill in Zauchensee, Vonn skied well off course on a sharp right turn but managed to recover in time and win. She also won despite a wobble near the top of her downhill run in Val d’Isere, France, last month. Before that, Vonn recovered after flying off the course in Lake Louise, Alberta, but still gave away a precious win to Riesch.

“I was like, ‘OK, that’s enough. I really need to just take it easy and ski 90 percent – ski cleanly but don’t risk too much,'” Vonn said. “It slows you down and it’s also very dangerous. This whole weekend my goal is just to have clean runs and no mistakes.”

The race Friday was scheduled for last month but was postponed twice, first due to high winds in St. Moritz, Switzerland, then by excessive snowfall in Val d’Isere.

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