American ski racer Lindsey Vonn gave herself a shot at yet another World Cup hat trick this weekend with a dominant showing today (Jan. 28) in the downhill at St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Vonn demonstrated the patience and tactics that made her an Olympic champion today on the action-packed, mile-and-a-half-long Engiadina course. Trailing by nearly a quarter of a second at the first split timer, Vonn slashed into the middle section of the hill building on her lead at every following intermediate marker and ripped across the finish line with a 1.42-second winning margin.
“Mostly I just tried to stay relaxed, I knew where I had to execute the line,” said Vonn.
Vonn, winner of the super combine season debut here yesterday, will have the chance to earn her second three-win weekend of the season (she also won two downhills and a super G in Lake Louise in December) in tomorrow’s super combined. Today’s victory is Vonn’s eighth of the season and the 49th World Cup win of her career. Until today, she had never won a World Cup downhill in St. Moritz in six previous attempts.
“I’ve struggled in St. Moritz in the past. For some reason, I’ve always made mistakes,” said Vonn, who is trying to stay focused on her skiing tomorrow. “I’m trying not to thinking about it because I think that 50 is a pretty substantial point in my career. I’m trying to just stay focused on the race tomorrow; it’s going to be a tough super combined.”
German defending overall World Cup champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather were the only racers to come within a second and a half of Vonn in second and third, respectively. Hoefl-Riesch collected her fifth podium of the season, she has yet to win this year.
Weirather put together an impressive run in the No. 9 bib. She skied the top quarter of the course better than any other woman and held top speed through the more technical middle section of the slope. The daughter of great racers Austrian Harti Weirather and Liechtenstein’s Hanni Wenzel, Tina Weirather is having her best season yet after earning her first World Cup podium with a second-place result in a Lake Louise downhill.
Slovenian all around skier Tina Maze just missed the podium today in fourth place, 1.65 seconds adrift.
Near the mid point of the season, Vonn appears to have run away with the overall title (the fourth of her career) with a daunting 352-point lead on Maze who stands second.
The clear, sunny skies that graced yesterday’s super combined were replaced by overcast conditions today but winds stayed calm and lighting conditions did not play much of a factor.
American Julia Mancuso was one of the only women who, at least temporarily, looked like she could challenge Vonn. Mancuso, starting two racers after Vonn, held the lead at the top of the course and maintained a tight line until making a mistake in the middle of the course and dumping a large chunk of her speed. She finished tied for fifth with French Marie Marchand-Arvier, 1.86 seconds behind Vonn to pull in her fifth top-five result of the season.
Teammate Leanne Smith, who built confidence with the fourth-fastest time in yesterday’s downhill leg of the combined, put a great run together in the No. 4 bib. She generated excellent speed in the middle of the course and crossed the line with a time of one minute, 45.54 seconds and held the lead through the next four racers when she was bumped by Weirather. She finished seventh, 1.89 seconds off the lead to notch a new career best result by one placing. She has three other World Cup top-10 results.
“It felt good to execute the line and the turns I wanted to all week,” said Smith. “I’m definitely happy about the way I’m skiing right now and I needed a downhill result so I’m really looking forward to next weekend where I can hopefully continue this little streak of better skiing that I’m on.”
American’s Laurenne Ross and Alice McKennis, both coming back from injuries, were the first two women down the course and held on to earn valuable World Cup points in 16th and 25th, respectively. Stacey Cook struggled to keep the line from the start of the course and eventually missed a gate in the middle of the hill. Young racer Julia Ford also recorded a DNF.
The USA now leads Austria by 344 points in the nations standings for downhill. “Every one is skiing really well and as a team we’re on a roll,” said Vonn. “It’s fun to see all the girls so excited and skiing so well, all the girls have a chance at being on the podium every day.”
Canadian Kelly VanderBeek made her return to World Cup racing today after missing nearly two entire seasons with a knee injury. She finished 47th. The Canadian women were led by Marie-Michele Gagnon in 27th.
World Cup action in St. Moritz concludes Sunday with the second super combined or the weekend. Tomorrow’s race replaces one canceled in Val d’Isere early December.
Image by Gepa
by Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup Downhill, St Moritz, Switzerland, Jan. 28, 2012
1 Vonn, Head/Head/Head
2 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
3 Weirather, Atomic/Tecnica/
4 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
5 Mancuso, Voelkl/Lange/Marker
5 Marchand-Arvier, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
7 Smith, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
8 Goergl, Head/Head/Head
9 Rolland, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10 Merighetti, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Women’s World Cup Downhill, St Moritz, Switzerland, Jan. 28, 2012. … It is the 20th race of the women’s 40 race (39 now) 2012 World Cup schedule. … The fifth of nine downhills. … It is the 38th Cup race held at least in part at St Moritz. … the 20th downhill. … It is the second of three events scheduled at St Moritz this weekend, the other two both combineds.
It is the 49th career World Cup win for Lindsey Vonn. … her 24th in downhill. … her eighth win (third in DH) of the season. … her third at St Moritz and second in two days. …. She needs one win to match Alberto Tomba career win mark.
It is the 63rd career World Cup podium result for Maria Hoefl-Riesch. … her 18th in DH. … It is her fifth podium of the season without a win. … It is the fifth time she has reached a World Cup podium at St Moritz.
It is the second career Cup podium for Tina Weirather, both in downhill and both this season, the other at Lake Louise Dec. 2. … She had never scored at St Moritz previously.
North Americans: It is the 50th top five Cup result for Julia Mancuso. … her 20th in DH. … It is her fourth top five of the season and first of the season in DH. … It is a career best showing at St Moritz. … It is a career best World Cup result for Leanne Smith topping an eighth in SG from Cortina Jan. 21, 2011. … It is the eighth score of the season and second top 10 for Smith. … Laurenne Ross matches her fourth best career result and it is her best career DH finish. … It is her third best placing of the season behinf super G results at Bad Kleinkirchheim (14th) and Cortina (13th). … It is the 12th best of 15 career scoring finishes from Alice McKennis. … her third score of the season, all in DH.
Standings: Vonn extends her lead of the World Cup overall standings 1170-818 over Tina Maze (fourth in race). …Hoefl-Riesch is third with 596. … Mancuso
is seventh with 487. … Marie-Michele Gagnon (did not race) is top Canadian in 43rd with 100pts. … Vonn leads the downhill standings 430-240 over Weirather. … Elisabeth Goergl (eighth in race) is third with 235pts. … Mancuso is fifth with 177pts. … Austria leads the womens’ Nations Cup 3291-2171 over the US. … Italy is third with 1518. … Canada 11th with 218pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|15||5||495318||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:46.27||33.62|
|49||58||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:53.44||125.62|
|Did not start 1st run|
|48||298084||AGERER Lisa Magdalena||1991||ITA|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|59||35079||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG|
|28||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR|