CORTINA d’AMPEZZO, Italy (Jan. 21 – Ski Racing Magazine News Service) – At the site of her first ever World Cup podium, American Lindsey Vonn tallied her 38th career win today in a super G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Vonn, who hasn’t finished lower than second in a speed race all season, earned her fifth victory of the season and second in a super G with a smooth run down the 1745-meter Olympia Delle Tofane course. The 20th racer out of the start, Vonn led at every split and crossed the finish line with a time of one minute, 11.66 seconds to beat second-place finisher Anja Paerson of Sweden by 0.43 seconds. Vonn also climbed 71 points closer to overall leader Maria Riesch of Germany (ninth today), who currently owns a 1052 to 927 advantage.
“I’ve been making a lot of mistakes in the last few races so today I just tried to have a clean and solid run and I’m really happy with it,” said Vonn who has become a high-speed recovery expert this season. “This gives me a lot of confidence for the next two races this weekend.”
Paerson secured her 93rd career World Cup podium and eighth in Cortina ahead of Austrian Anna Fenninger, who was only seven hundredths of a second behind Paerson in third place today. It was Fenninger’s second podium of the season after finishing third two weeks ago in the Zauchensee downhill.
“I was a little tentative on top and then pushed really hard on the bottom,” Paerson told reporters. “I was able to straighten out some problems with my equipment since the last speed races. Speed skiing is all about finding the right harmony and feeling and I’m starting to feel good. My focus is really on the World Championships.”
Vonn’s winning time bumped her teammate Julia Mancuso off the podium by 0.13 seconds into fourth place with a time of 1:12.26. It was Mancuso’s fourth top-five finish of the season.
Swiss skier Lara Gut, winner of the last super G in Zauchensee, was 0.62 seconds off the winning pace today in fifth place while her teammate Fabienne Suter tied for sixth with Austrian Olympic super G champion Andrea Fischbacher.
Gone were the snow-deteriorating high temperatures that canceled last weekend’s GS and slalom races in Maribor, Slovenia. The cloud cover that dimmed both this week’s downhill training days broke today and the famous Cortina sun was out for race day as the Dolomites were shimmering in all their glory while temperatures stayed in the high teens. Looking ahead to two more days of racing, officials opted to go with the lower super G start for today’s race. Wind gusts from all directions challenged racers throughout the day. “It was pretty windy but I think everyone just had to do the best they could with the conditions they got,” said Vonn.
With her fourth win in Cortina, Vonn now trails Riesch in the overall race by 125 points after a string of four consecutive slalom DNFs saw her slip 196 points behind her good friend. Vonn is chasing her fourth overall globe this year as Riesch fights for her first after finishing as runner-up the last two seasons.
“At this point every downhill and super G race are really important for the overall World Cup. My goal is to try to ski the best I can in every speed race and just try to use every opportunity,” said Vonn, who won super G and downhill races here last season. “Honestly I feel a little pressure because I know I have to ski well in every speed race in order to catch up to Maria. But at the same time, if I ski nervous I’m never going to win anyways. I’m just out there skiing the best I can, trying to attack the course. Usually when I focus on skiing the results follow so that’s what I am going to try to keep doing.”
The U.S. got even more good news from their younger racers as Leanne Smith (in bib No. 35) notched her career high in eighth place. She recorded her previous high on the same slope a year ago with a 15th-place result in the downhill, a feat she repeated this season in Lake Louise.
“I’m really excited, it’s been a long time where I though I was able to do this,” said Smith, who has been racing at the World Cup level since 2007. “I had a good inspection and I had a good feeling. I just tried to lay it down and put it all on the line and I think I did that. I’m pretty excited about how it ended up.”
U.S. teammates Laurenne Ross (bib 34) and Stacey Cook (bib 51) also overcame late starts to hit the points in 19th and 21st, respectively. Chelsea Marshall finished 39th. Today’s results mark the first time the U.S. has never had three top-10 finishers at Cortina.
“There was a very fast set for the super G and the girls were ready for it,” said U.S. head coach Alex Hoeldmoser. “We laid it out that it had to be full attack on that thing and that’s what they did. It was really cool to see how they charged.”
Riesch struggled to maintain speed in the bottom of the course to finish ninth, collecting her 16th top-10 result of the season.
Canadian Britt Janyk led her team in 22nd, 1.54 seconds off the winning pace.
Women’s World Cup racing continues in Cortina tomorrow with a downhill. A second super G is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 23.
For more details including full results go to Skiracing.com.