Vail’s Vonn wins second World Cup title
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
ARE, Sweden ” Perfect start, perfect ending for Lindsey Vonn.
She captured the overall title for the second straight year by winning the last downhill of the season Wednesday at the World Cup Finals. She is the first American woman to win two World Cup overall crowns.
Vonn, of Vail, Colo., won the season-opening downhill in early December at Lake Louise, Alberta, and finished in the points in the remaining five races.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s been a long season and it’s been really difficult and challenging, but I’m really happy that it’s over. Winning today and finishing out the season strongly means a lot to me.”
Vonn completed the Olympia course in 1 minute, 42.49 seconds after posting the fastest splits all the way down. The course, designed by former Swiss downhill great Bernhard Russi, is one of Vonn’s favorites. Two years ago, she won two silver medals in the downhill and super-G at the world championships.
Vonn already had clinched the downhill title for the second straight year, matching hero and friend Picabo Street’s consecutive titles in 1995 and ’96. She needed at least an eighth-place finish to clinch the overall.
“It’s a really special moment in my life,” she said. “I give my whole life for the sport and to be able to win something like this for a second time in a row, it means a lot to me. It’s why I work hard, it’s what I live for and it’s special to have been able to put my own mark in the history books.”
Maria Riesch of Germany was second, 0.40 behind, and also finished second overall. Austria’s Renate Goetschl, a five-time winner at Are, was third, 1.26 back.
“I was surprised that I ended up second. I’m really happy,” Riesch said. “It’s great to ski here. It’s a really nice hill.”
With three races left at the finals, Vonn leads the overall standings with 1,688 points. Riesch is second with 1,299 and Anja Paerson of Sweden third with 990.
A double gold medalist a last month’s worlds, Vonn also has a chance to win the super-G title, trailing Fabienne Suter of Switzerland by 15 points. The last super-G is Thursday.
“It’s going to be a fight, for sure,” Vonn said. “But I’m only 15 points behind and I think that anything is possible,” Vonn said.
With this season coming to a close, Vonn can start to look toward next year and the Vancouver Olympics. The 2006 Turin Games were most memorable for her frightening crash during a training run, and she failed to win a medal.
“I hope these Olympics will be my time, and I’ll be able to accomplish my childhood dream of winning an Olympic gold medal,” Vonn said on a conference call later Wednesday.
Vonn, who holds the U.S. women’s record for most World Cup wins with 21, said the downhill course was a big challenge.
“It was a little bit bumpy and there is quite a bit of terrain in the course,” she said. “There were a lot of jumps and the light was flat, so those things definitely made it really tough. I knew that I had to be aggressive and really charge if I wanted to get on the podium today.”
Vonn has been racing with a special splint after surgery. She severed a tendon in her right thumb on a broken champagne bottle while celebrating her second world title at Val d’Isere, France, last month.
“It still hurts and it makes my starts a lot more weak, which has definitely cost me time,” Vonn said. “But, during my run I feel like it is almost normal. It’s a little awkward with the tape and I can’t quite put my pole exactly where I want it, but I think that I’ve gotten used to it.”
Vonn topped the final downhill standings with 502 points. She was followed by Andrea Fischbacher of Austria (326) and Riesch (292).
Paerson returned for the first time to the hill where she won the downhill, super-G golds at the 2007 worlds. She started fast but lost pace at the bottom, winding up 16th of 24 finishers. The race was held in snowy conditions with fog at the top of the course.
“I made mistakes where I shouldn’t have made them,” she said. “And after that it was impossible to catch up.”
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