Vail’s Vonn takes Lake Louise … again
Vail, CO Colorado
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta ” Vail’s Lindsey Vonn took her fifth downhill win in as many years at Lake Louise in blustery conditions Friday.
Starting 16th, Vonn jumped into the lead after the first split, then gained two more tenths to finish 0.61 seconds ahead of Italy’s Nadia Fanchini who came in second. Maria Riesch of Germany was third, 0.69 seconds off Vonn.
“It’s amazing. It’s awesome to have a feeling like I have on this hill. I know it so well,” Vonn said. “It seemed like such a short time ago that I was going for three wins here and now I’ve been able to win five.”
The win also breaks Isolde Kostner’s previous record of four wins on the course, and it makes Vonn the overall World Cup leader by 69 points over Tanja Poutianen of Finland.
Women’s alpine head coach Jim Tracy said Vonn skied exceptionally well through tough conditions on the hill.
“It’s a nice feeling. She knows this course so well and she’s so confident,” he said. “Her experience, her conditioning and her mental approach puts her on a very, very high level. It makes it tough for everyone else.”
Vonn is off to an exceptional start this season as she aims to defend last year’s overall title. She was ninth in the opening giant slalom at Soelden, Austria, took first in the slalom at Levi, Finland, and was fourth in both the giant slalom and slalom at Aspen last week.
Home away from home
Vonn attributes her success to mental confidence on a course she’s said she knows like the back of her hand.
“It’s just confidence. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even need to inspect. I just know the right line. I don’t feel any different physically, it’s mostly mental,” she said.
Vonn also said managing her time has become more of a challenge this year because she’s the overall defending champion.
“It’s been difficult to manage everything. (My husband), Thomas, and lots of others are all working together to help keep me prepared and make sure I get what I need. I’m doing all my interviews at one time, one right after another, instead of here and there. It helps to have people around you to manage those kinds of things,” she said.
While Vonn came away with the win, no other Americans finished inside the top 30.
“It was pretty disappointing. We definitely expected better today, but we’re going to go watch some video and see what we can do tomorrow,” Tracy said. “They just need to ski more relaxed, ski like they know how.”
Tracy said some racers had trouble adjusting to varying winds at the top of the course, which sent some into a turny section at higher speeds and forced others to battle a head wind.
“I had to fight it a little up there and I’m thankful because sometimes it’s tough to pop in there in conditions like that,” Vonn said.
The U.S. Team has had success at Lake Louise in the past. Besides Vonn’s wins, Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs) was second there in 2002 and posted two top-10 finishes in 2004, while Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, Calif.) was fourth at Lake Louise in 2005.
The day also marked Lalive’s first race back since the 2006 season. Lalive has fought her way back from multiple injuries over the last few years. Topping it all off, she had emergency abdominal surgery in November before racing in Lake Louise to finish 55th.
After the race, Vonn said she was confident in the team and had high hopes for the weekend.
“They were all really fast in training and they are fired up and hungry for some World Cup points tomorrow,” she said.