Vail’s Vonn on verge of 3rd overall World Cup title |

Vail’s Vonn on verge of 3rd overall World Cup title

AP Sports Writer
US skier Lindsey Vonn speeds down the course on her way to set the fourth fastest time during training for an alpine ski Women's World Cup Downhill, in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany, Tuesday, March 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Elvis Piazzi)

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Her body aching but her outlook strong, Lindsey Vonn enters the final downhill of the season with a chance to win the overall World Cup title for the third straight season.

After winning six of seven World Cup downhills and the Olympic gold medal, Vonn is the overwhelming favorite in Wednesday’s race, the first event of the World Cup finals.

“I feel good coming into this week. I am fresher than I thought I’d be, at least mentally,” Vonn said Tuesday after placing fourth in a practice run down the Kandahar course. “Physically, I definitely need a break, but mentally I feel fresh. I am skiing pretty relaxed now and I have a lot of confidence.”

Fabienne Suter of Switzerland led Tuesday’s practice, ahead of Olympic silver medalist Julia Mancuso of the United States and Elisabeth Goergl of Austria.

Vonn is coming off a successful weekend in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, where she won a downhill and was runner-up in the super-G in tough conditions. She already has secured season titles in those two events. Vonn won the Olympic bronze in the super-G.

“Last weekend was a really fun weekend, it definitely helped me despite weather conditions,” she said. “I had a good time skiing, I think that’s really important.”

Vonn is still nursing a sore right shin and a broken little finger on her right hand. She bruised the shin before the Olympics and broke the finger in a spill in the Olympic giant slalom.

“My shin is not going to be better until I take a good chunk of time off, but it’s very manageable pain right now,” Vonn said.

As for the finger, “its just broken, not a problem at all,” said Vonn, who wears a special brace and tapes the finger to the glove when she competes.

Vonn has a 245-point lead over her friend and rival Maria Riesch in the race for the overall title. If Vonn has a lead of more than 300 points after the downhill, she will have clinched the overall title.

“It’s a good lead and if I ski well tomorrow, it could be over,” Vonn said.

Riesch, who won slalom and combined gold medals in Vancouver, thinks it already is.

“Anyone who can count can see it. The overall title is unrealistic for me,” said Riesch, who is competing in her hometown, which will host the World Championships next year.

After the downhill, the women also race the super-G, the giant slalom and the slalom, and a win is worth 100 points. The men have the same program.

Vonn can become the American with the most World Cup wins this weekend. She is tied with Bode Miller with 32.

Miller announced Tuesday that he will not compete this weekend, deciding to end his season early and rest a sore right ankle. The 32-year-old Miller is not in the running for any World Cup titles.

Miller won gold in the combined, silver in the super-G and bronze in the downhill at the Vancouver Olympics.

The men also have a downhill race, and Didier Cuche of Switzerland already has secured that title.

Two Austrians, Hans Grugger and Mario Scheiber, led the practice run, followed by Andrej Sporn of Slovenia. The Austrians will be hoping to end the season with a victory and prevent a shutout for the first time since 1991-92.

Riesch is the only one to snap Vonn’s streak.

The men’s overall title is still up for grabs, with Benjamin Raich of Austria leading Carlo Janka of Switzerland by 46 points.

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