Vail's Vonn wins Val d'Isere downhill, pulls within 52 points of Riesch for overall World Cup lead
"I'm really psyched to have the red bib back. It means a lot," said Vonn, who won the 2009 downhill World Championship on the nearby Solaise slope in Val d'Isere. "I hope that I can keep skiing well and hang onto the bib until the end of the year. Downhill is my favorite event."
Vonn also picked up ground on her friend Riesch in the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail product's bid to continue her reign of consecutive overall World Cup titles. Vonn, who has won the last three titles, is now just 52 points behind overall leader Riesch.
And now with two wins this season, Vonn is sixth on the all-time victories list with 35 – just one win behind Germany's Katja Seizinger for fifth on the all-time wins list.
Vonn and Mancuso, debuting personally designed Spyder speed suits, kicked out of the start under bluebird skies and with single digit temperatures as the field's covered faces dropped into their tucks for the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill.
Vonn started 20th, making an incredible save after nearly crashing on the turn just below the second jump. She kept her cool, arriving in the finish arena with a time of 1:51.42 - .68 ahead of the field. Switzerland's Nadja Kamer finished in second with teammate Lara Gut in a close third.
"I made a really big mistake on the top part of the course and I honestly thought I would not be able to win the race," explained Vonn. "I had been fast in the middle section of the course on the training runs and I knew if I skied well it might be possible to make up some time. I just tried to stay in my tuck as much as I could, be clean and ski aggressively. Thankfully I was able to make the time up and come away with the win."
Vonn made a similarly athletic recovery during the second downhill of the season in Lake Louise. She credited the save, which ultimately landed her second, to her rigorous off season work ethic and agility training.
Vonn, who owns the most World Cup wins of any American ski racer ever, also regained the downhill standings lead. She also owns World Cup downhill wins from 2005 and 2006, placing her in the same category as women's greats Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria and Marie-Therese Nadig of Switzerland, who also have three World Cup downhill victories in Val d'Isere. In addition to the '09 World Championship, Vonn is also the reigning super combined champion in Val d'Isere.
“I love Val d'Isere, I've always had a good feeling here. It's great to have another victory," added Vonn.
After a few deep breaths in the gate, Mancuso charged the course crossing the line in eighth after Friday's super G was canceled when three feet of snow fell over the French resort. This was her fifth consecutive World Cup top 10.
"They did a good job pushing out all the snow, but it was pretty soft still. I just a lost a little time in the middle but it was another solid downhill finish," said Mancuso. "Skiing's going well, I definitely want to go a little faster but it's a good solid finish."
Americans Leanne Smith (Conway, NH) in 18th, Laurenne Ross (Klamath Falls, OR) in 25th and Alice McKennis in 30th (Glenwood Springs, CO) all followed suit, breaking inside the top 30 to score World Cup downhill points.
"It was very tight, so a small mistake could have been 10 spots in the rankings," said Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser. "We're pretty happy with it, but we expect a lot out of that group. We're hoping that they were going to be more around the top 10, top 15, but the groups improving. I'm sure we're going to get there."
The women will be back in the start gate Sunday in Val d'Isere for a super combined.The race will stream live on www.UniversalSports.com beginning at 3:45 a.m. ET.
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Val d'Isere, France – Dec. 18, 2010
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:51.42
2. Nadja Kamer, Switzerland, 1:52.10
3. Lara Gut, Switzerland, 1:52.22
4. Elisabeth Goergl, Austria, 1:52.38
5. Ingrid Jacquemod, France, 1:52.61
8. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:52.99
18. Leanne Smith, Conway, NH, 1:53.44
25. Laurenne Ross, Klamath Falls, OR, 1:53.68
30. Alice McKennis, Glenwood Springs, CO, 1:53.96
35. Chelsea Marshall, Pittsfield, VT, 1:54.31
40. Stacey Cook, Mammoth, CA, 1:54.74
47. Megan McJames, Park City, UT, 1:56.10
For complete results: www.fis-ski.com
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