Vail's Vonn wins again at Lake Louise; Miller top American in Birds of Prey downhill
December 5, 2009 —
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta, Canada – Talk about a comfort zone. Free of Friday’s flurries, the field still was no match for Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) on Saturday, when the American great coolly captured her fifth consecutive Audi FIS World Cup downhill victory – and second in two days – at Lake Louise.
Vonn bolstered her bid for a third straight downhill crystal globe, tucking hard early from a higher start gate only to fall behind the split of then-leader Maria Riesch at the midway point.
A 14-time downhill winner, Vonn took a high line to build speed through the gliding section of the course and reeled in Riesch little by little before finally reclaiming an ad-vantage in the final 15 seconds of the race.
With the sun shining and storm clouds long gone, American skiers complemented Vonn’s second win of the season with a strong performance Saturday.
The 50th racer to leave the gates, racing just her third World Cup event, 21-year-old Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO) cruised to a career-best 10th after taking 18th in a confidence-inspiring Friday run.
"I'm really excited and very happy with the results today," Mckennis said. "The day wasn't much different that yesterday. I just went to the start and tried to stay focused on the ski itself. I hoped it put me I good spot, and it did."
Coming off a 10th-place finish in the first race, Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) set a fast early pace and held the lead temporarily until teammate Stacey Cook (Mammoth, CA) jumped in front of her by .09 seconds on the next run.
They remained 1-2 through the first seven races, eventually falling to 11th and 12th when McKennis surpassed them later.
The U.S. team, which had five skiers in the top 30 on Friday, bettered that feat in this one with four racers among the top 12 and six in the points. It was the first time since 1991 in Vail the U.S. had four of the top 12 skiers in a World Cup downhill event.
Vonn, with 24 overall World Cup victories, closed on Riesch in the overall World Cup standings, trailing 316-309 after just two speed events among six overall.
She will try to lead the U.S. Team to its third consecutive race victory in the final event at Lake Louise, Sunday’s super G. Fans can watch live at www.universalsports.com.
After Sunday, the women travel for slalom and giant slalom World Cup races in Are, Switzerland from Dec. 12-13.
Miller 4th in Birds of Prey downhill
BEAVER CREEK, CO (Dec. 5) - Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) took the U.S. fans along on his wild ride as he burned the Audi FIS Birds of Prey downhill course for a fourth-place finish Saturday. It was Miller's best downhill result on the course since he won in the 2007 season.
For the second day, Switzerland's Carlo Janka took the win in Beaver Creek, followed in second by fellow Swiss Didier Cuche. Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, who won the downhill last season, was third.
Miller aced the top section of the course, then came into a compression that threw him off kilter. Regaining balance with his hand, Miller continued to gain speed, finishing in the lead from his starting position before falling back to fourth.
"Unfortunately the mistake on the pitch was really a pretty big one and it was hard to get back in line. I lost a lot of speed and line there," Miller said. "Once the edge gets in there clean, it just slingshots you out of the compression. I had to keep my hand on the snow otherwise I'd have flipped all the way around and landed on my back. But I got my skis back on the ground."
For Miller, part of racing to win on the Birds course is pushing for the win without backing off.
"Mistakes are acceptable when you push the way I was pushing. I was trying to do a lot and I was taking a really aggressive line and not backing off anywhere," Miller said. "On this course if you want to win that's usually what you have to do."
Miller also said time was lost on the bottom part of the course because his fitness isn't exactly where it needs to be yet.
"On the bottom, my legs aren't as strong as they should be right now. I just got a little bit rotated and I couldn't hold it," Miller said. "The fitness level is going to be a bit of an issue for a little while. It's just hard to train and get the fitness moving forward when you're racing all the time like I am. But that will come around. I just started much later than I ever have before."
Also making a huge splash for the home crowd was Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY). The ever emerging dark horse, who finished fifth in the downhill portion of the super combined Friday, was an ace on the Birds downhill, started in 47th and finished 11th for the day.
"I had a good run. I just tried to ski solid and ski within myself. I didn't make any major mistakes, but I could have cleaned it up a little bit. I was happy with how I've skied overall," Weibrecht said.
Weibrecht had some insider info on the conditions of the Birds course thanks to a radio call to the top from Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA).
"I got a great course report from Marco. He said it's totally rippable. Having that knowledge and being able to know this is coming from a guy who was sitting in 11th at the time, it's great," Weibrecht said.
Thanks to strong skiing as of late, Weibrecht also earned a start spot for Sunday's GS race.
"I am excited to race the GS. My rankings aren't that good. I'll be starting way back - probably last - but I feel pretty good about my GS skiing. I'm just going to give it a shot and hope for my best," Weibrecht said.
Joining Miller and Weibrecht in the top 20 was Sullivan in 14th, and Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) in 24th.
"I made a couple mistakes and there were some turns where I got pulled low. Overall I carried my speed pretty well off the pitch," Sullivan said. "Considering the way my week has been going with training, I am actually pretty happy with my run."
The Men's Alpine Team races again on Sunday in Beaver Creek in a GS before making their way to Europe. The GS will be live on UniversalSports.com and on TV with 11:45 and 2:45 pm ET starts Sunday.
2010 AUDI FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP
Beaver Creek, CO – Dec. 5, 2009
1. Carlo Janka, Switzerland, 1;43.49
2. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:43.51
3. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 1:43.53
4. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:43.94
5. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:43.95
11. Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY, 1:44.60
14. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:44.83
25. Erik Fisher, Middleton, ID, 1:45.33
31. Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT, 1:45.71
41. Jeremy Transue, Hunter, NY, 1:46.65
DNF: Scott Macartney, Crystal Mountain, WA
2010 AUDI FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP
Lake Louise, AB – Dec. 5, 2009
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:50.06
2. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1:50.41
3. Emily Brydon, Canada, 1:50.76
4. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1:51.17
5. Dominique Gisin, Switzerland, 1:51.29
10. Alice McKennis, Glenwood Springs, CO, 1:51.70
11. Stacey Cook, Mammoth, CA, 1:51.71
12. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 1:51.80
23. Leanne Smith, Conway, NH, 1:52.26
25. Chelsea Marshall, Pittsville, VT, 1:52.44
34. Laurenne Ross, Klamath Falls, OR, 1:52.96
DNF – Keely Kelleher, Big Sky, MT
Comment on "Vail's Vonn wins again at Lake Louise; Miller top American in Birds of Prey downhill" using the form below