Vail’s Vonn owns Lake Louise downhill | AspenTimes.com

Vail’s Vonn owns Lake Louise downhill

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado

Lindsey Vonn lauches off a jump on her way to winning Saturday's World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta. (Frank Gunn/AP)

Lindsey Vonn owns Canada’s downhill. Now, she wants America’s.Vonn flew to her fourth straight downhill win at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Saturday, besting runner-up Renate Goetschl by more than a second. The win comes less than a week before the return of America’s Downhill on Aspen Mountain – the first here in 12 years, and the first women’s downhill on Ajax in 19 years.Wearing protective tape on her cheeks and nose to ward off frostbite in temperatures that dipped to 18 below zero, the 23-year-old Vail local finished in 1 minute, 48.69 seconds.

Goetschl finished in 1:49.77, and Canada’s Britt Janyk took third in 1:49.96, her first podium result on the World Cup circuit.Vonn didn’t disguise her desire to win on home snow in front of home fans during a conference call with reporters Saturday.”I’m really looking forward to Aspen. This is my first opportunity to really race my discipline in not only my home country but my home state,” said Vonn, who changed her last name from Kildow after marrying former national team speed skier Thomas Vonn in September. “I’m going to have family and friends there, so it’s going to be exciting … It’s a pretty technical hill, and I’ve obviously never skied downhill there … It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it.”Vonn attributed her unmatched success at Lake Louise in the past four years to a course that suits her as a strong glider and agile turner and a growing reservoir of confidence. She won her first World Cup race on the course in 2004, a watershed win that came at the young age of 20.”I just love that hill,” she said. “There’s certainly hills that every athlete has confidence at. I just love being here. The snow’s always great, the course is always great. I just know the hill like the back of my hand.”

Vonn was the only U.S. Skier to finish in the top 10 Saturday. Julia Mancuso of Olympic, Valley, Calif., finished 13th and reigning NorAm downhill champion Leanne Smith of Conway, NH, finished 23rd after starting 46th.Chelsea Marshall of Pittsfield, Vt., who made her World Cup debut in the Lake Louise downhill a year ago, was 34th, missing the top 30 and her first World Cup points by 0.13 seconds.Vonn said the success of the U.S. men’s team in recent years at Beaver Creek has been a motivating factor for the U.S. women in their North American races. The fact that the men have raced speed events in Colorado while the women, before this year, have raced nearly only slaloms and giant slaloms didn’t seem fair, Vonn said, considering the strengths of the U.S. women’s team.The men’s super G at Beaver Creek was canceled Saturday because of heavy overnight snow, and is rescheduled for Monday.Last winter, Mancuso finished second in the final World Cup downwhill standings while Vonn was third.

Vonn hopes to not waste the opportunity she’s been dreaming of for years next Friday when she enters the starting gates atop Aspen Mountain.”In years past it’s usually been a GS and slalom, and that’s really hard to do well in if you haven’t had a downhill,” she said. “For me, I feel like this is a real big opportunity and chance to show the U.S. what I’ve got.”The Associated Press and the U.S. Ski Team contributed to this report.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com.

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