Vail’s Vonn’s downhill streak ends
AP Sports Writer
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland – Lindsey Vonn’s perfect downhill season ended Saturday when her ski hit a hole and she finished fifth in a World Cup race won by Maria Riesch of Germany.
Riesch clocked 1 minute, 41.31 seconds on the Corviglia piste to close the gap on Vonn to 61 points in the overall World Cup standings.
Vonn, who had six straight wins including the final downhill race of last season, finished 1.21 back. The American lost speed and nearly lost her balance after her skis struck a hole in the snow, coming out of a tight right-hand corner in the second half of the course.
“It was definitely dangerous,” said Vonn, who raced after her friend Riesch and equaled her time at the first check. “There are a lot more bumps on the course today. I lost my direction and barely made my next gate. I was pretty close to going out there.”
The damage appeared to have been created by racing in the super-G portion of Friday’s super-combined event. Vonn was one of several racers to find trouble at the same spot.
“I’m a little upset that there had to be this hole from (Friday) and I just wish it could have been a more fair race,” Vonn said. “Definitely the early runners had an advantage but that happens, that’s life.”
Riesch improved her result after skiing out in the super-combi on Friday, when she misjudged her racing line.
“It’s an important success for me, to have the feeling that I can win,” said Riesch, who was twice runner-up when Vonn won the season’s first five downhills. “This last victory before the Olympics is very important.”
Ingrid Jacquemod of France was second, 0.79 seconds behind Riesch, and Fabienne Suter of Switzerland trailed by 0.96 in third.
Jacquemod got her best result in five years and her third podium finish of the season.
“It may be my best season in speed events. I just want to enjoy this day,” the 31-year-old said.
Seven of the top 10 finishers were among the first 11 starters, including two more Americans.
Alice McKennis got a career-best World Cup finish in ninth, and Chelsea Marshall’s 10th place was her best of the season. Other American finishers were Stacey Cook (12th), Leanne Smith (18th), Julia Mancuso (22nd) and Laurenne Ross (28th).
Of the later racers, only Vonn and Friday’s winner Anja Paerson – who placed fourth, 0.01 off the podium – came within 1.77 of Riesch.
The super-G Sunday is the final World Cup race before the Feb. 12-28 Vancouver Olympics.
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