Vonn dominates Cortina downhill
CORTINA DAMPEZZO, Italy Compliments from the Austrian skiing media are like praise from Caesar.So when Lindsey Vonn earned the adulation of the alpine-skiing empire for her downhill dominance, she didnt take it lightly. I read in an Austrian paper after (my win in) St. Anton (Austria) that they were saying its pretty much a race for second place, and the Austrians can forget about a downhill title this season, Vonn said. That was pretty cool the Austrians never give anyone credit but the Austrians.Almost one month after her St. Anton win, Vonn picked up right where she left off, smoking the field in a World Cup downhill at Cortina DAmpezzo, Italy the womens top downhill venue. Vonn finished in 1 minute, 36.70 seconds Saturday, 0.83 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Anja Paerson, of Sweden, and 1.20 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Emily Brydon, of Canada. Austrias Renate Goetschl, who has a record 10 wins in Cortina, was 1.26 seconds back in sixth, with Vonns teammate Julia Mancuso in seventh.Its really cool to win here, Vonn said in a telephone interview Saturday. Its like for the men in Kitzbuehel (Austria) or Wengen (Switzerland). Cortina is also special for me because its where I got my first (World Cup) podium.On Jan. 18, 2004, Vonn took third in a Cortina downhill. Since then, Vonn has picked up 11 World Cup wins, including eight in downhill and one in super-combined.Every year, Lindsey is getting faster and stronger in downhill, Paerson told The Associated Press. Shes skiing everywhere fast. I know the feeling, when you just ski and trust yourself on every corner. Its up to us to beat her. When she starts to finish really fast every race, were going to have problems.Those problems may have already arrived. With half of this seasons 10 downhills complete, Vonn has three wins, along with a super-combined victory. Vonn won the opening downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, placed fourth in Aspen and then took second in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Along with her downhill win in St. Anton, Vonn took the downhill leg of the super-combined there by close to 1.5 seconds and went on to win the race.Saturdays performance may have been the 23-year-old Vonns best of this season.Anytime you win, youve got to be happy, Vonn said. To win by such a large margin was definitely pretty cool. It doesnt happen that often. It gave me a lot of confidence.
When Vonn took fourth in the Aspen downhill the top American female finish on home turf since Kristina Koznick was third in a 2004 slalom in Aspen she had to put on a champions face.For those conditions, it was good to get those points, Vonn said of this years race. It still bums me out because it was the worst place Ive had in a downhill all season. I want to show fans that downhill is cool and show them how well Americans can do in it. Im trying my best now.Vonn holds a commanding 430-264 lead in the downhill standings over Canadian Britt Janyk. Italys Denise Karbon has been slightly more efficient in the giant slalom, with wins in five races along with a third-place finish, although Karbon holds a smaller lead (141 points). Saturdays win pushed Vonn from fourth place overall into second, 61 points behind Austrias Nicole Hosp, who has 699. While she is certainly in striking distance of Hosp, even with her subpar super-G performances this year, Vonn is more focused on winning her first discipline title.There are still five downhills left, but so far its looking pretty good, she said. Im pretty optimistic about the title.Last season, Vonn had a great start and picked up two silver medals at the World Alpine Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, but went out with an injury in late February. At the time, Vonn was second in the super-G standings and third in downhill. In 2006, Vonn finished second in downhill, 88 points behind Austrias Michaela Dorfmeister, while in 2005, Vonn was third in super-G.One thing I need to do this year, which I havent done in the past, is stay strong all season, Vonn said. Sometimes I take too many risks and go too straight and want to win too badly, and it ends up costing me points.Vonn said shes feeling great physically and appreciates having her husband, Thomas, traveling with her through the World Cup tour.He helps me a lot with everything I do with skiing and video. If Im feeling bad or good, hes always there to stand behind me and support me, Vonn said. Its not every day you get someone so supportive.There is a super-G scheduled for today, as well as a makeup super-G Monday.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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