Courtesy of the U.S. Ski Team
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March 7, 2009 — OFTERSCHWANG, Germany -- Vail's Lindsey Vonn of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail took a big first-run lead into the second run of a World Cup slalom here Saturday, appearing poised to all but lock up her second straight overall title.
But the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail product and double World Championship gold medalist straddled a gate on a tricky part of the course and was a DNF.
Vonn's good friend and closest pursuer in the hunt for the overall title, Maria Riesch, of Germany, was fifth, clinching the title in a discipline Vonn, a speed specialist, has enjoyed surprising success in this season
After sitting in third following the first run, Sandrine Aubert of France won Saturday's slalom to mark the first World Cup win of her career in Germany. Hailey Duke (Boise, ID) led the way for U.S. women, finishing 17th.
"It was definitely a tough race. It was one of those ones that fell apart and you had to have all the skills to have a good run," U.S. Women's Tech Head Coach Trevor Wagner said. "It wasn't smooth, you had to adjust and be smart with your tactics to be able to manage all the conditions."
Wagner was particularly impressed with Duke, who he believes is making huge strides in her skiing.
"Hailey had a pretty good first run and her second run was good. She made up 10 places, which is awesome," Wagner said. "This is a sign of where she's going to go. To be in your first year on the World Cup and be in the top 30 is pretty sweet."
Vonn, who was in the hunt to solidify her spot as 2009 overall World Cup champion with a win on Saturday, was on her way to another slalom win when tricky course conditions in the second run got the better of her.
"When you run 30th on the second run in these warmer conditions in the wet snow you get a shelf at the gates and the inside ski just grabs on that and that's how she straddled the gate," Wagner explained. "When you have that shelf, it's tricky because the inside ski wants to grab. Straddling is just part of the game in slalom."
Vonn will now have to wait a week to clinch the overall title till World Cup finals in Are, Sweden, which kicks off with a downhill March 11th.
"I'm really looking forward to Are. In the past it's been a good hill for me. I think downhill is going to be good and I'm going to be fighting for the super G title as well," Vonn said. "Hopefully I have a solid downhill performance and have enough points to get the overall title then so it's not weighing too heavily on my mind."
Wagner would like to see her conquer the last slalom of the season there as well.
"I'd like to see her win that. The course especially suits her skills. She is very fast when it's medium terrain. If you give her enough distance on a course that's medium, she's very fast," Wagner said. "As a slalom skier you just have to try to get as many fast runs down the hill as you can and hopefully they happen in the same day."
World Cup finals run March 11-15 in Are. To re-live the action from Ofterschwang, fans can check out UniversalSports.com for on demand coverage of World Cup alpine ski racing.
2009 AUDI FIS WORLD CUP RESULTS
Ofterschwang, Germany - March 7, 2009
1. Sandrine Aubert, France, 1:46.28
2. Frida Hansdotter, Sweden, 1:46.71
3. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 1:47.10
4. Sarka Zahrobska, Czech Republic, 1:47.20
5. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1:47.58
17. Hailey Duke, Boise, ID, 1:48.90
DQ1: Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO)
DNQ1: Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA)
DNF2: Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO)
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