Vonn closing in on another World Cup overall title
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
ARE, Sweden ” Lindsey Vonn gets her chance Wednesday to become the first American woman to capture two World Cup overall titles.
She enters the downhill in this week’s season finals leading Maria Riesch by 369 points with four races left and 400 points at stake. She needs to finish sixth or better ” or ahead of the German ” to capture her second straight overall crown.
Tamara McKinney was the only previous U.S. woman to take the overall, in 1983. Vonn has surpassed McKinney’s World Cup victory total and now holds the women’s U.S. record with 20.
“I love racing in Are,” Vonn said. “I was able to take a couple of medals home from here in 2007 at the world championships and I’m looking forward to taking a couple of World Cup titles home this time. It’s a great area and a really comfortable place to end the season.”
Two years ago, Vonn left Are with two silver medals in the downhill and super G at the worlds. In last month’s worlds, she upgraded them with two gold medals in the same disciplines.
Vonn already has clinched the downhill title for the second straight year, matching hero and friend Picabo Street’s consecutive titles in 1995 and ’96.
Vonn also has a chance to win the super G title, trailing Fabienne Suter of Switzerland by only 15 points. The last super G is Thursday.
Riesch, the world champion, clinched the slalom title Saturday in Germany. In the giant slalom, Kathrin Zettel of Austria leads Tanja Poutiainen of Finland by 41 points. No other skier can win the discipline title.
On the men’s side, eight points separate the top three skiers. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia and 2006 overall champion Benjamin Raich of Austria are tied for the lead with 837 points. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, the 2007 overall champion, is eight points behind in third. Four other racers are less than 200 points back.
Bode Miller, the defending men’s overall champion, sat out the last three weekends in Europe and will miss the finals. The New Hampshire skier has not won a race this season has yet to decide on retirement.
Michael Walchhofer will be going for his third downhill title since 2005. He leads fellow Austrian Klaus Kroell by 75 points.
In the super G, veteran Hermann Maier has a 19-point lead over Svindal. Five others have a theoretical chance to take home the crystal globe.
Didier Cuche of Switzerland tops the giant slalom standings, 52 points ahead of Raich. Ted Ligety of the U.S., the defending GS champion, is 73 points behind.
In the slalom, Jean-Baptiste Grange of France holds a 49-point lead over Kostelic. Manfred Pranger of Austria is third, 92 points back.
The women’s downhill training was canceled Tuesday, and only 14 skiers completed the men’s training before fog covered the course.
The remaining men’s starters will head back to the course early Wednesday followed by the women’s downhill later in the morning and the men’s downhill early afternoon.
“The snow was absolutely perfect,” said Marco Sullivan, the only U.S. starter in the men’s downhill. “It’s fast, grippy and the course is running great. It’s really aggressive at the top. There’s some good jumps and some super high speed turns.”
The top 25 skiers in each discipline qualified for the finals.
There are no races in the super combined, won by Carlo Janka of Switzerland and Anja Paerson of Sweden this season.
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