Vonn third in downhill, regains World Cup overall lead | AspenTimes.com

Vonn third in downhill, regains World Cup overall lead

Eric Willemsen
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Lindsey Vonn of the United States speeds down the slope on her way to take third place in the women's Ski World Cup downhill competition in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

ZAUCHENSEE, Austria ” American Lindsey Vonn finished third in a World Cup downhill Sunday, good enough to regain the lead in the overall standings.

The defending overall and downhill champion trailed co-winners Anja Paerson of Sweden and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland by 0.17 seconds. They both finished the 1.83-mile Kaelberloch course in 1 minute, 47.52 seconds.

Vonn won her third World Cup event of the season and 16th overall, leaving her two short of American Tamara McKinney’s record 18 victories.

“It means the world to me that I am even being considered with such legends as Tamara,” she said.

Vonn moved ahead of Maria Riesch of Germany, who had led the standings but finished seventh. Vonn has 776 points, followed by Riesch with 765 and Paerson with 702.

“At this point it’s not entirely important (to lead the standings), but at the same time it feels good,” said Vonn, who won the super-combi on Saturday. “It’s definitely a confidence-builder.”

Vonn also tops the downhill standings after two events. But she went out cautiously after nearly crashing in the super-combined downhill the previous day. She made a great recovery after almost falling backward while landing from a jump.

“I was a little bit nervous about that. I don’t normally get that way,” Vonn said. “I skied a little bit too cautiously going into the jump, that’s why I didn’t win.”

Still, Vonn accomplished her goal of attaining two podium finishes over the weekend.

“I am happy,” she said. “It was important to get the points and especially today conditions were hard. It was windy and the light wasn’t good. It was tough to come down and be fast. But I know where I made my mistakes, so I feel confident going to Cortina.”

American teammate Julia Mancuso, who struggled with back problems early in the season, finished 24th.

The sunny weather changed during the race as clouds came in. Gisin, who started with bib No. 4, said conditions had favored her.

“I was lucky with the weather, I had a better sight than most of the top racers,” said Gisin, who won her first World Cup. “I wasn’t too fast at the start, but then I thought I had to give just everything.”

Paerson, won her 40th World Cup title, led Gisin by 0.48 seconds at the second intermediate time.

“It got quite dark. The upper part was OK, but the trees made it very dark afterward,” Paerson said. “I struggled to see the right line.”

The World Cup moves to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, for four speed races that start Thursday.

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