Lindsey Vonn wins third straight World Cup downhill race to regain overall lead

By Eric Willemsen, AP
Friday, January 8, 2010

Vonn wins World Cup downhill in Austria

HAUS IM ENNSTAL, Austria — Lindsey Vonn won her third straight World Cup downhill on Friday and regained the lead in the overall standings from Maria Riesch of Germany.

The reigning World Cup downhill and overall champion raced down the Krummholz course in 1 minute, 38.84 seconds to beat Anja Paerson of Sweden by 0.35 seconds. Riesch finished third, 0.39 seconds behind the American star.

“I really attacked today,” Vonn said. “It’s a great feeling, everything is so smooth. I can’t be more happy with my downhill season so far.”

Vonn, who is skiing with a bruised left arm after a crash last month in Lienz, Austria, hasn’t lost in the downhill since last February. She hasn’t missed the podium in the discipline since February 2008.

Her injured arm hampered Vonn while pushing off at the start, but she still posted the fastest first intermediate time.

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

Vonn leads the overall standings with 694 points, while her good friend Riesch has 659. They are well ahead of the rest of the field, with Kathrin Zettel in third place with 569 points.

“You should be happy with any podium finish,” said Riesch, who clinched her first World Cup win here six years ago. “I had no perfect run, though my skis were really fast.”

Paerson finished on the podium for the first time 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 was among the fastest starters and was heading for a top-five finish before crashing in a turn. She stood up immediately with no apparent injuries.

The news wasn’t as good for Maria Holaus of Austria, who broke her right ankle during pre-race warmups. She was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Other American finishers included Stacey Cook (13th) and Julia Mancuso (14th).

Vonn said she got extra motivation after reading reports in several Austrian media this week, claiming that Vonn was overweight and therefore would have an advantage in speed races.

“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 said she would study a video recording of her run to avoid some minor mistakes and “hopefully have an even cleaner run” in Saturday’s race.

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

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