Gisin, Vonn finish 1-2 in Cortina downhill |

Gisin, Vonn finish 1-2 in Cortina downhill

Andrew Dampf
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Switzerland's Dominique Gisin, right, winner of an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill race, celebrates on the podium with second placed Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy ” Dominique Gisin of Switzerland edged Lindsey Vonn to win the downhill on Saturday.

Gisin finished in 1 minute, 16.98 seconds on the shortened Olympia delle Tofane course. Vonn, the reigning overall champion, finished 0.15 seconds behind. Anja Paerson was third, 0.17 back.

Gisin tied Paerson for her first World Cup victory last weekend in Zauchensee, Austria.

Paerson injured her left knee while landing a jump, little more than a week before she is scheduled to defend three titles at the World Championships.

Vonn made a few slight errors in her run but retained her lead in the overall standings with 856 points. Maria Riesch is next with 810 points and Paerson is third with 762.

“I didn’t exactly ski the way I wanted to. I made mistakes on the top and the bottom. I wasn’t clean and it was too many mistakes to win,” said Vonn, who wore a specially made red, white and blue racing suit as part of her rotating downhill wardrobe.

“I think if I had made only one mistake instead of two I could have won.”

Paerson got treatment for her knee and hopes it’s just a tweak.

“I had a big jump on the top and I got a little bit twisted in the air, so I had a really bad landing,” Paerson said after recovering to finish third. “Coming down it didn’t feel that bad, then when I landed on the last jump, I felt a little pinching.”

Vonn also still holds a 240-226 lead over Gisin in the downhill ranks. This season marks the first in six years that the 23-year-old Gisin has not been injured.

“I’m really happy to see her doing well. She’s had so many injuries and she’s a really nice girl,” Vonn said. “I just hope she doesn’t keep beating me in the downhills.”

During one of her injury breaks, Gisin studied to become a military pilot. She also studied physics.

“I liked flying, but I love skiing,” she said. “I wrote a thesis once on the physics and gravity involved in skiing, and sometimes I look at curves from different perspectives. Physical power is not the only force involved in skiing.”

Paerson said she injured her left knee slightly while landing a jump on the upper section of the course.

Tina Maze of Slovenia finished fourth in the race and Riesch was fifth.

Several contenders struggled with a shadowy section midway down.

Renate Goetschl, who holds a record 10 wins in Cortina, was 0.32 ahead of Gisin before losing control for an instant and missing a gate.

Likewise, Ingrid Jacquemod was nearly even with Gisin before her right ski came loose, forcing her to fall and slide down the course on her stomach for about 50 yards. Jacquemod got right up and appeared uninjured.

Emily Brydon was also faster than the Swiss winner at the second checkpoint, then had to touch her hand down to the snow to regain her balance after an error in the same spot.

The race was run under mostly sunny conditions after a blizzard dumped more than 4 feet of fresh snow on the course earlier in the week. The storm was followed by heavy fog, forcing the cancellation of a second downhill that had been moved from Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It would have been nice to run the whole downhill but it was the right decision with the avalanche risk,” Vonn said. “It’s actually a little more challenging when it’s shorter because you have to make fewer mistakes. But I was just happy to race a downhill here.”

Vonn got her first podium finish here five years ago and won the downhill last year. She has six podium finishes overall in Cortina and 12 top 10 results.

“I’m a little disappointed. I really wanted to win in Cortina,” Vonn said. “I’ve had good results here, but things don’t always go your way. I still got good points for the overall, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’m really happy they’re running the super-G Monday.”

A giant slalom is also scheduled for Sunday. This was the final downhill before the worlds in Val d’Isere, France, Feb. 3-15.

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