Vail’s Vonn wins 2nd straight downhill title
VAIL, Colorado ” Lindsey Vonn, of Vail, Colorado, joined Picabo Street on Saturday as the only Americans to win two straight World Cup downhill championships.
The 24-year-old Vonn clinched her second straight title by finishing 12th at a race in Bulgaria to match the feat first achieved by Street in 1995 and 1996.
“It’s so cool to join Picabo as the only American to win the downhill title twice.” Vonn said. “It really doesn’t seem like all that long ago when I met her at a poster signing in Minnesota and since then I’ve always looked up to her.”
Vonn was well down the field on Saturday, but her time of 1 minute, 48.0 seconds was enough to win her the title with only one downhill remaining on the circuit.
“It took a little longer to clinch it this year and I didn’t ski my best today, but I’m still really happy ” this is a huge accomplishment,” she said. “It’s never easy to win a World Cup title and it’s even harder to defend one.”
Vonn also made history earlier this month by winning the 19th World Cup race of her career to move past Tamara McKinney for the U.S. women’s record.
Vonn, recovering from a training fall in Bulgaria and an earlier thumb injury, also remained on course to successfully defend her overall World Cup title with a 336-point lead over Germany’s Maria Riesch.
Looking unsettled in Saturday’s race, Vonn struggled to keep her balance, but ended the day 111 points clear of Dominique Gisin in the downhill standings, making it impossible for the Swiss racer to catch her.
“Lindsey skis to win every race and she did that today too,” U.S. speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. “This is just such a tough course, everyone had some close calls.
“Lindsey had a big one at the top of the hill, but pulled it back in and kept her hands forward down the entire thing. She did a great job staying with it.”
Andrea Fischbacher of Austria won Saturday in 1:45.81 seconds, edging Slovenian Tina Maze, who was second in 1:46.0. Fabienne Suter of Switzerland was third in 1:46.20.
Despite Vonn’s struggles in Bulgaria, Hoedlmoser said she had earned the title.
“The downhill title is a reflection of the best speed skier throughout the season and Lindsey is definitely the best and she deserves the title,” he said.