TARVISIO, Italy (Mar. 6 – Ski Racing Magazine News Service) – Lindsey Vonn and her U.S. Ski Team comrades had an amazing day today on the sunny super G track in Tarvisio, Italy. Vonn secured her third World Cup title in three days as she won the penultimate super G of the season with a 0.23 second advantage on teammate Julia Mancuso in second place.
World Cup overall leader, German Maria Riesch finished third today, 0.50 seconds behind Vonn as the latter closed the gap in the overall title race to 96 points (1676-1580) with the 41st World Cup win of her very well decorated career. It is the first time Riesch’s lead on Vonn has been in the double digits since Dec. 29, when Riesch jumped 121 points ahead of Vonn a day after taking the lead from her. Six races remain on this season’s World Cup calendar as Vonn continues to fight from behind for her fourth consecutive overall globe and Riesch seeks her first.
“At this point I actually feel really relaxed. I know I have to perform if I still want to be at all in contention for the overall and that’s how I’m approaching it,” said Vonn. “I have to go after it and if I make mistakes I make mistakes. But I have to try to do my best to give Maria a run for her money.”
It was the fourth time Vonn, Mancuso and Riesch shared a podium this season.
Fellow American Laurenne Ross, who has made considerable noise in her first full season on the World Cup tour, exploded into the limelight today in fourth place, missing the U.S. podium sweep by just two-tenths of a second. In the No. 6 bib, Ross got the U.S. party started early, finishing with the lead after an impressive one minute, 22.45 second run. She held that lead through the next nine racer, including some of the world’s top women, until being bumped by the three-time super G champion in teammate Vonn with a near flawless run.
It was Ross’ best career finish by 12 placings. Her previous World Cup high came with a 16th-place result in a super combined in December at Val d’Isere. The result launched Ross into 16th in the season super G standings and earned her a ticket to the World Cup finals (only the top 25 in each discipline get the nod) in Lenzerheide, Switzerland in two weeks. She also finished 10th in the downhill at her World Championships debut last month in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
“I knew I had to do really well if I wanted to make World Cup Finals. I just gave it everything I had and I pinned it. It’s definitely something that I’ve been looking to do and working toward all year. It’s good to know that I am in there and can compete with these girls,” said Ross, who nearly had to use both hands to count how many levels she moved up today. “It would have been nice to be third but this is my first top five, my first top 10 and my first top 15 in a World Cup. I was 10th at World Championships but this is my first time really be in there for a World Cup. I’m OK with Julia, Lindsey and Maria beating me because they are all really good skiers.”
The last time U.S. women finished 1-2-4 was Jan. 14, 2007 in a Zauchensee super combined as Mancuso, Vonn (then Kildow) and Resi Stiegler accomplished the rare feat.
It has been an unbelievable weekend in the Italian Alps for Vonn as she secured her career 10th, 11th, and 12th World Cup titles. She pulled in her second consecutive super combined title on Friday, her fourth downhill crown in a row on Saturday and her third consecutive super G season championship today. She took the first two crystal globes this weekend with second-place finishes then ended the trip with her eighth World Cup victory of the season.
“I’m really happy with the way this whole weekend turned out. I’m especially happy with the super combined title, that was really important for me particularly with my slalom,” said Vonn. “One of my goals at the beginning of the season was to defend my World Cup titles – so far, so good. But a lot can happen in the next two weeks.”
With only one super G left on this season’s schedule, Vonn’s current 171-point lead on Riesch (560-389) is well out of the German’s reach. Vonn won four of this season’s six super G races to date and finished second in the other two. Mancuso, however, could still improve on her season super G ranking, she currently stands third with 315 points.
It was Mancuso’s 24th World Cup podium and her best result in a super G in three years. She has tallied four World Cup podiums as well as a World Championships silver medal in this her best season in four years. She currently stands in fifth place in the overall rankings with 836 points. Mancuso’s best overall ranking came in 2007 when she finished third, that was the same year she scored her last World Cup win with a downhill victory here in Tarvisio. The first words out of her mouth in the finish area were in celebration of her young teammate’s accomplishment, “Yeah Laurenne!”
“I wanted to be top three for super G this season and I knew that could happen. Lindsey is skiing really well so I figured if I had a good season and try to win more next year,” said Mancuso, who stands fourth in the downhill rankings. “I think if I keep up with the good results it can be a challenge for me to try to be top three in the super G and the downhill and also overall. I’m going to really try to give myself that challenge and pick up as many points as I can.”
Today’s top ten was filled with tightly-packed, well-qualified women as yesterday’s downhill winner, Swede Anja Paerson finished 0.72 back in fifth. Downhill and super G world champion, Austrian Elizabeth Goergl was 0.74 seconds of the pace in sixth and Friday’s super combined winner, Slovenian Tina Maze was another two-hundredths of a second adrift in seventh.
The good news for the U.S. continued further down the result sheet as Leanne Smith matched the third-best result of her career in 11th, only a day after getting the same result in the downhill. Teammate Stacey Cook was the fifth American on score in 26th.
Britt Janyk was the only Canadian in today’s race. She finished 24th for her 10th scoring result of the season.
The women’s World Cup tour now moves to Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic for giant slalom and slalom races March 11 and 12 before concluding March 14-20 at the World Cup finals.