Vail’s Vonn wins World Cup downhill |

Vail’s Vonn wins World Cup downhill

Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, speeds down the course on the way to win an alpine ski World Cup women's downhill race, in Val d'Isere, France, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Enrico Schiavi)

ALTENMARKT-ZAUCHENSEE, Austria – Lindsey Vonn won a women’s downhill Saturday, earning her fourth victory of the season and moving within four victories of Anja Paerson’s record of 41 World Cup titles.

Vonn, the three-time defending overall champion, skied well off course in a sharp right turn but recovered to finish the 3-kilometer Kaelberloch course in 1 minute, 46.39 seconds.

Sweden’s Paerson placed second, 0.43 behind the American, to earn her first podium finish of the season.

It’s Vonn’s 20th career downhill title and 37th overall.

“It’s always great to win a race in Austria, it feels like a second home to me here,” said Vonn, who usually spends a month training in this region during the offseason.

Austria’s Anna Fenninger was 0.98 seconds back in third for her first top-3 finish in downhill, while World Cup leader Maria Riesch took fourth – another 0.07 back.

The German remained on top of the standings with 883 points, followed by Vonn with 747.

Vonn was the fastest starter but was not clean afterward.

“I almost ended up in the safety nets in the middle part,” she said. “I tried to forget about that and gain speed again in the next turn. If you race aggressively, you can win much time on this course. … my skis were really fast.”

Riesch was pleased with her performance after struggling with the course during the two days of training.

“It’s a shame to miss the podium by just 0.07, but I am very satisfied,” the German said. “I definitely did better today but made a mistake in the middle part. I lost speed and time there.”

The U.S. coaches and Vonn’s husband, Thomas, helped her prepare for the race during the course inspection.

“We always make a plan together, it gives me confidence going into the race,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes this season, but I know I have to stay cool and avoid unnecessary risks.”

Paerson saw the first half of her season ruined by equipment troubles, but seems to have found the right set-up for the second part.

“The right feeling on the snow has always been key to the successes in my career,” she said. “If it doesn’t feel well, I can’t ski well.”

The Swede took a break around the start of the new year to test new skis.

“From the first training here I felt that I was on the right way,” she said. “I even had the idea I could win today. Being on the podium is just what I wanted.”

Paerson, who started 17th, was ahead of Fenninger’s best time throughout. Her hopes of winning the downhill lasted for two racers until Vonn sped down wearing bib 20.

A women’s World Cup super-G is scheduled for Sunday in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee.

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