Vonn wins fifth straight downhill, builds overall lead on German rival Riesch
January 23, 2010 —
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) continued her ascension into the elite ranks of women's skiers Saturday, notching her eighth win of the season and career 30th Audi FIS Alpine World Cup victory - including a sweep of all five downhills this season.
"It's a phenomenal achievement," said U.S. Women's Head Coach Jim Tracy. "It's something that, when you start your career, you dream and you wonder if you can ever get to be that good. All of us are extremely proud of her."
German rival Maria Riesch was second, 0.42 seconds behind in a slightly closer affair than Vonn's 0.67-second super G win on Friday.
"You can't just cruise down and have a solid run and be in the lead," Vonn said. "You have to really risk something but also ski smart. I feel like I found that rhythm and know what to do. It's nice when you have the confidence in yourself to know exactly what you have to do every day. It helps so much."
In typical Vonn fashion, she started fast and ended faster, eclipsing Riesch's early pace as five U.S. women found themselves in the points.
"It was very close," Tracy said. "She by no means was crushing the field. She had to ski really well to pull this one out."
Vonn's win knotted her with Croatian great Janica Kostelic at eighth on the women's all-time wins list. She has three wins and eight career podiums in Cortina.
"It's a pretty special place, and we're all involved with a pretty special athlete right now," Tracy said.
2006 gold medalist Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) grabbed her best finish this season in eighth place, just more than a second back of Vonn and 0.2 seconds behind third-place Anja Paerson of Sweden.
"I just wanted to be faster," Mancuso said. "I think it was good. I was slowing down on the bottom. That's where I lost all my time. If I didn't lose so much on the bottom, I would have been in there."
The eighth place finish was vital for Team selection as it moved Mancuso one spot ahead of Stacey Cook's (Mammoth Mountain, CA) ninth in Haus, Austria a week ago. It puts Mancuso into the top two for downhill selection. In addition to Cook's ninth, Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO) also has a top 10 from Lake Louise, AB in the season openers.
After making a small error and taking 20th in the super G, Leanne Smith (Conway, NH) rocketed to a season-best 15th Friday and to hopefully keep herself in the running for the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, to be named Monday.
"She had really wanted to improve on some of the jumps, keeping good aerodynamics, and she did that," Tracy said, adding that Smith seems to have found the ability to improve good training times on race day.
Cook also was in the points at 25th, McKennis was 28th, and Chelsea Marshall (Pittsfield, VT) tied with Slovenia's Marusa Ferk for 30th despite going up on one ski on the difficult course.
McKennis was pleased to have the honor of kicking off the festivities as the first skier.
"It was really exciting," she said. "It was a little nervous. It's cool to be the first one down the course and be in the seed and everything. I'll definitely save this bib for sure."
Video of the race is available on UniversalSports.com, where fans can also view tomorrow's giant slalom live.
"Today was a classic Cortina beautiful bluebird day," Tracy said. "To do well at Cortina is a big deal. This was a good day for us."
Sunday is the final race before the Olympic Team is determined.
2010 AUDI FIS WORLD CUP
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy - Jan. 23, 2010
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:37.70
2. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1:38.12
T-3. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1:38.56
T-3. Nadja Kamer, Switzerland, 1:38.56
T-5. Fabienne Suter, Switzerland, 1:38.58
T-5. Ingrid Jacquemod, France, 1:38.58
8. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 1:38.76
15 Leanne Smith, Conway, NH, 1:39.54
25. Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 1:40.00
28. Alice McKennis, Glenwood Springs, CO, 1:40.14
T-30. Chelsea Marshall, Pittsfield, VT, 1:40.28
DNF - Keely Kelleher
Miller nabs 9th in Hahnenkamm downhill
KITZBUEHEL, Austria (Jan. 23) Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) was ninth in the 70th year of the legendary Hahnenkamm Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill, the final chance for American speed skiers to earn their U.S. Olympic Team start. Switzerland's Didier Cuche won for the second day in a row as five Americans landed in the top 26.
"From top to bottom, it was a challenging race," said U.S. Men's Head Coach Sasha Rearick.
"Everybody was coming out to win today. The slope was perfect, bluebird sun, and every single one of the guys in the top 30 was out there with one mission: to win this race."
Miller, who had been the fastest in training Thursday, took an early lead but lost it about a third of the way down the hill in the only major World Cup downhill the two-time overall champion is yet to win.
"Bode skied very aggressively up top, but he lost some time in the middle," Rearick said. "On the bottom he didn't quite ski as aggressively on a fine line as he normally can do."
Making a final statement for the coaches before Vancouver picks, Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) tied Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) for 18th.
"It's fun to be here, but I feel like it's time that I start doing some things," Fisher said. "I had a big mistake and was able to make up a lot of time at the bottom. I know the speed's there, I've just gotta put a full run together.
"I usually make a mistake after I have one, because I'm trying to go to hard," Fisher said. "I was able to pull it together and have a clean bottom half."
For his part, Sullivan also finished 11th in the super G, and is showing signs he's rounding into top form.
"It was really fun," he said of the downhill. "Not the best result I was looking for, but even coming through the finish, I had a big smile on my face. It's such a pleasure to run this course."
More than 40,000 fans were on hand for Scott Macartney's (Crystal Mountain, WA) first downhill start in Kitzbuehel since his famous crash two years ago. Macartney recovered last year only to tear his ACL in Wengen, one week before his return.
"It's good to be back," Macartney said. "It was tough the first day, tough to really wrap it up on this hill, but I kept getting better, and every day I was faster. I had a couple of mistakes today and was out of the points, but it was nice to get back to Kitzbuehel and charge down the hill again.
"You're always nervous at Kitzbuehel. The very first day, I was probably as nervous as I've ever been for a World Cup. I was more relaxed today."
Sunday's slalom concludes competition at Kitzbuehel, where there will be a podium for the top three slalom racers and another for the fastest combined racers from Saturday's downhill and Sunday's slalom. It is the only traditional combined of the World Cup season and does count toward the discipline title. Fans can watch this weekend's races live or on-demand at UniversalSports.com.
"It's going to be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, and then once we have that information, the staff will sit down and make a decision on who's going to go to the Olympic Games," Rearick said.
Together with Saturday's downhill, Miller, with his top 10, will have a shot in the combined. The slalom skiers then head to Schladming for Tuesday's night race.
The Olympic Team is expected to be announced Monday.
2010 AUDI FIS WORLD CUP
Kitzbuehel, Austria - Jan. 23, 2010
1. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:53.74
2. Andrej Sporn, Slovenia, 1:54.02
3. Werner Heel, Italy, 1:54.13
4. Mario Scheiber, Austria, 1:54.25
5. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 1:54.42
9. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 154.90
T-18. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA; and Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID), 1:55.49
24. Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT, 1:55.70
26. Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY, 1:55.83
41. Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, 1:57.16
44. Scott Macartney, Crystal Mountain, WA, 1:57.52
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