An American mark: Vail’s Vonn wins again
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland Sometime this spring, Lindsey Vonn may be able to sit down and think about her record-setting winter.For now, Vonn is busy focusing on a few more milestones.On Saturday, Vonn won a World Cup downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, setting the American mark for most victories in the discipline.It was a great day today, Vonn said during a conference call Saturday afternoon. This season has just been unbelievable.One month ago in Sestriere, Italy, Vonn, a former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete, won her ninth career downhill, tying childhood idol Picabo Street and recently retired Daron Rahlves. Two weeks ago, Vonn wrapped up the downhill title with a second-place finish in Whistler, British Columbia, joining Street as the only other American woman to win the discipline crown.When I won in Sestriere and tied Daron and Picabo, I was amazed and shocked and honored, Vonn said. Now I surpassed (the mark). Its not sinking in yet. Maybe after this season Ill realize what happened.Vonn blazed through the course Saturday, finishing in 1 minute, 23.57 seconds, 0.61 seconds better than the second-place finisher, Austrias Renate Goetschl. Italys Nadia Fanchini (1:24.21) was third, with American Julia Mancuso just 0.03 seconds behind Fanchini in fourth.With the win, Vonn extended her lead in the overall to 150 points. Austrias Nicole Hosp, who finished 27th Saturday, is second in the overall. Of the five remaining races, there is a combined today, along with two speed events and two technical events next week at the finals in Bormio, Italy. Vonn is looking to become the second American woman to win an overall crown Tamara McKinney was the first to do so in 1983.There are a few more races left, so I hope I can keep doing the same things Ive been doing all season, and hopefully I can keep having success, Vonn said.Vonn has a chance to pick up her sixth downhill win of the season in Bormio, which would tie her with Street for the most downhill victories by an American in one season.This season Ive been striving to try and win every time, but its not that easy, especially in Bormio, Vonn said. Its on the mens course, which is challenging and has rough conditions.
While Vonn has dominated familiar downhill courses such as Lake Louise, Alberta, and Val DIsere, France, she has quickly mastered new slopes such as Whistler and Crans-Montana.The previous downhill race on Saturdays hill took place more than a decade ago, so the training runs were especially important for Vonn and almost the entire field (only three skiers had raced a downhill there before).Its all about inspection and knowing the lines, Vonn said. Sometimes it takes a couple runs on the course to find the right lines. It was tougher in Crans-Montana to get that feeling. I missed a gate in the training run (on Friday), and I was pretty nervous about that today.Vonn said she watched the racers who won the training runs to get a better idea as to what lines to take.I dont feel like I ever have a problem with new courses, Vonn said, adding that skiing well in general helps. I feel like I can carry confidence into a new course. Last year, following a pair of second-place finishes at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, Vonn sat out the rest of the season with an injury.I had a lot of confidence going into this fall, and I just continued to progress and carried it over, Vonn said. But I didnt expect to have this many wins.
Before Vonn gets a shot at another downhill win and the overall, she can pick up another globe today in the combined. Vonn trails Germanys Maria Reisch, one of her good friends, by 40 points heading into the final competition.Im definitely thinking about it a little bit, but I have to ski my best to make up that 40 points, and Maria is skiing well in downhill and slalom, so it will be tough to beat her, Vonn said.Reisch trails Vonn in the overall by 177 points. Vonn got a nice break last weekend when a pair of technical races were canceled in Germany, leaving the slalom and giant slalom in Bormio as the best shot for second-place Hosp to make a move on the overall.I talked to (Hosp) after her training run (Friday), Vonn said. I said, Hey, Niki, sorry about those races in Germany, … and she said it doesnt matter because whoever is going to win will win by more than enough points, so it wouldnt matter. She was talking to me in a defeated tone, so hopefully it is a positive thing for me. But shes definitely a bit of a mind-game player.Vonn hopes to be ahead of Hosp and others by an insurmountable 201 points or more heading into the final two races of the season.I have to try and stay with Niki (today) and really fight like heck at the super-G (in Bormio), Vonn said. Hopefully at that point I wont need to be too strong in the giant slalom and slalom.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.