Vail’s Vonn enters ski worlds with back-to-back wins
VAIL, Colorado ” Vail’s Lindsey Vonn couldn’t have planned her run-up to the World Championships any better.
The defending and current overall World Cup leader won back-to-back races in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany over the weekend and tied Tamara McKinney’s American women’s record of 18 career victories.
“It’s the best possible preparation I could have had for these World Championships, and I hope that I can just keep the momentum going and get some medals here,” Vonn said Monday on the eve of the championships.
The worlds open with the women’s super-G on Tuesday, with Sweden’s Anja Paerson the two-time defending champion.
At the last worlds in Are, Sweden, two years ago, Vonn finished second to Paerson in super-G for her first career major championship medal.
After starting out by dominating a slalom, Vonn capped her weekend in Garmisch with a super-G victory for her first win in the discipline in two years.
“Garmisch definitely helps my confidence. Super-G hasn’t been going that well for me in the past few years but yesterday was a great race and now I know that I can do it and I trust myself a little more,” she said.
Vonn has yet to win gold at an Olympics or at the worlds.
“There’s definitely a little pressure coming in to World Championships never having won a gold medal,” she said. “I hope to change that.”
The women’s speed course in Val d’Isere, the Solaise-Piste Rhone-Alpes, is new but Vonn and a few other skiers made a special trip here last spring to check it out.
“I had already gone home for U.S. Nationals, so I had to come back to Europe. But I thought it was really important to get a couple runs in on the new course,” Vonn said. “I knew what to expect for the free skiing today and hopefully that will be an advantage.”
Bad weather altered the schedule in Garmisch, moving the super-G from Saturday to Sunday, and leaving racers limited time to get to Val d’Isere ” an 8-10 hour drive. Vonn solved that problem by taking a private jet from Innsbruck to Geneva, then traveled by car for the final leg.
“I got in at 7 p.m. in time for dinner and went to bed,” Vonn said.
Fellow U.S. Ski Team racer Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley, Calif., made the trip in the personal bus she travels the circuit on.
“I took the night liner, so it was pretty comfortable,” Mancuso said. “I got some spinning in, we made some dinner, watched a lot of movies and we only got lost once, so it wasn’t much of a problem. We got in at 1 a.m.”
Mancuso hasn’t won a race in nearly two years but has a sterling record in big events. She won two bronze medals at the 2005 World Championships in Bormio and Santa Caterina, Italy, then took gold in giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Olympics and a silver in super-combi at the 2007 worlds in Are ” along with four titles at various junior World Championships.
“I’ve always executed at big events. This season hasn’t been going awesome for me, so for sure it’s going to take a bit of luck for me to ski fast here but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Mancuso said, citing back trouble and equipment changes for her struggles.
Stacey Cook of Mammoth, Calif., and Chelsea Marshall of Pittsfield, Vt., round out the American super-G team, although Marshall is likely to sit out with a bad back.
“It’s going to be a game-time decision but I would say 90 percent she’s not going to go,” women’s coach Jim Tracy said. “She’s pretty disappointed right now.”