Lindsey Vonn soars in Cortina |

Lindsey Vonn soars in Cortina

Andrew Dampf
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Lindsey Vonn speeds past a gate en route to winning Saturday's World Cup downhill on the 2.822- kilometer (1.75- mile) Olympia delle Tofane course in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. (Marco Trovati/AP)

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy ” Lindsey Vonn cruised to victory Saturday, pulling within one World Cup win of matching childhood idol Picabo Street as the top American downhiller.

She crushed her rivals in capturing the season’s most pres­tigious race. The Minnesota skier finished in 1 minute, 36.70 seconds ” 0.83 seconds ahead of triple world champion Anja Paerson.

Austria’s Renate Goetschl, with a record 10 wins in Cortina, was fifth, 1.26 seconds behind, on an overcast day.

This was Vonn’s fourth victory of the season and 11th of her career. Perhaps more notably, it was her first in Cortina on the demanding Tofane course.

“This is one of the great classics of the World Cup tour,” Vonn said. “It’s just one of those races that’s important to win in your career.”

The 23-year-old Vonn changed her name from Lindsey Kildow after marrying former U.S. skier Thomas Vonn in the offseason. She said this race might one day be regarded as the moment when the torch passed from Goetschl to her as the tour’s top speedster.

“Yeah, maybe. She’s won 10 times here, so I don’t feel too bad taking one,” Vonn said. “To beat her is pretty cool.” The 32-year-old Goetschl finished first or second in 10 downhills on this course the previous eight seasons ” in addition to her five super G victories on the Olympia delle Tofane course.

“I cannot be always the winner,” Goetschl said. “For sure, it was not my best run. I’m going to have to change some­thing.”

Goetschl is winless this season.

“I don’t think she’s that happy, but she’s a very gracious loser and she has very good sportsmanship,” Vonn said after the Austrian congratulated her. “I want her to stay around and keep skiing for a lot longer.”

Of Vonn’s 11 career victories, eight have come in down­hill. Street and Daron Rahlves are the most successful U. S. downhillers with nine victories each.

“Every year, Lindsey is getting faster and stronger in downhill,” Paerson said. “She’s skiing everywhere fast. I know the feeling, when you just ski and trust yourself on every corner. It’s up to us to beat her. When she starts to finish really fast every race, we’re going to have problems.”

Vonn has won three of the five downhills this season and holds a 430-264 points lead on Britt Janyk of Canada in the discipline standings. Goetschl is third with 255.

“It looks good, finally,” Vonn said, refer­ring to her chances for the season’s down­hill title. “The last few years I started off well but then had problems. Hopefully this year I can hold on to the end.”

Emily Brydon finished third, 1.20 seconds behind, and Brydon’s Canadian teammate Kelly Vanderbeek was fourth. Another American, Julia Mancuso, finished seventh. “I didn’t quite execute,” Mancuso said. “I was a little sick last week, so I’m just trying to get things going again.”

Vonn increased her lead at every interval and made virtually no mistakes. Last sea­son, she fell twice during the downhill on this course.

“Today, I just tried to ski my best but not too much,” Vonn said. “I know I can ski faster.”

Nicole Hosp of Austria, who skipped the downhill, still leads the overall standings with 699 points. Vonn moved up from fourth to second, with 638.

With Brydon, Vanderbeek and Janyk ” who finished sixth Saturday ” Canadian skiers took three of the top six spots.

“It’s all about momentum and confi­dence,” Brydon said. “It’s an individual sport, but we work well as a team. Any one of us can be on the podium on any given day.

Super G’s are scheduled for the next two days.

“Super G hasn’t gone that well for me this season,” Vonn said. “But I’ve got some new skis and I think they’ll be fast tomorrow.”

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