After criticism about weight, Vonn pounds World Cup field with 3rd straight downhill victory

By Eric Willemsen, AP
Friday, January 8, 2010

Vonn wins 3rd downhill in row, takes overall lead

HAUS IM ENNSTAL, Austria — Nothing like a “stupid” comment about her weight to make Lindsey Vonn ski faster.

She won her third straight World Cup downhill Friday and regained the lead in the overall standings from Maria Riesch of Germany.

Austrian media this week reported that Vonn, the reigning downhill and overall champion, would have an advantage in speed events because she was carrying additional weight.

“Anytime people say stupid things in the media, it always makes me more motivated to try to ski faster,” Vonn said. “It’s obvious that I am an athlete and not an overweight person, so I thought it was pretty ridiculous. It just added fuel to the fire.”

Vonn raced down the Krummholz course in 1 minute, 38.84 seconds to beat Anja Paerson of Sweden by 0.35 seconds. Riesch, who led Vonn by five points in the overall standings before the race, took third, 0.39 behind the American.

“I really attacked today,” said Vonn, who is skiing with a bruised left arm after a crash in Lienz last month. “It’s a great feeling. Everything is so smooth. I can’t be more happy with my downhill season so far.”

Vonn was hampered by her injured arm while pushing off at the start, but she still posted the fastest first intermediate time. She has been unbeaten in downhill since February last year and hasn’t missed the podium in the discipline since February 2008.

Vonn plans to study tape of her run to avoid minor mistakes and “hopefully have an even cleaner run” in Saturday’s race.

“It’s not a really difficult downhill here, only if visibility is poor,” she said. “In the lower part, the course gets more technically demanding.”

Vonn leads with 694 points and Riesch has 659, both well ahead of the field. Austria’s Kathrin Zettel is third at 569 but doesn’t ski downhills.

Riesch, whose first World Cup victory came on this course six years ago, wasn’t too disappointed by losing her lead.

“I think you should be happy with any podium finish,” she said. “I had no perfect run, though my skis were really fast.”

This was Paerson’s first top-three finish since last February.

“I was aware that we would go a lot faster than in training,” she said. “I had to fight and I am happy that I managed to do so well.”

Dominque Gisin of Switzerland looked set for a top-five finish before crashing. She got up immediately with no apparent injuries. Maria Holaus of Austria broke her right ankle during pre-race warmups and will miss the rest of the season.

Friday’s race replaced the downhill that was canceled in Val d’Isere, France, in December. Another women’s downhill in Haus im Ennstal is set for Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.

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