Vail's Vonn third in GS, cuts Riesch's overall lead to just 38 points

By Real Vail
Real AspenMarch 11, 2011
SPINDLERUV MLYN, Czech Republic – Vail's Lindsey Vonn earned her first ever giant slalom podium today, closing the gap in the overall World Cup title chase to just 38 points behind Germany's Maria Riesch, who almost skied off course and wound up 29th.

Despite winning 41 World Cup races in her stories career – the fifth most all-time -- Vonn has never captured a GS. She's won at least one race in every other discipline. Today she was third behind Viktoria Rebensburg, of Germany, and Denise Karbon, of Italy.

Lindsey Vonn claims her first ever giant slalom podium.
U.S. Ski Team photo

“I've been waiting for a long time for a good result in giant slalom,” Vonn said. “I knew the skiing was there; it was just a matter of putting down two solid and aggressive runs. This is just great timing to say the least.”

Vonn is trying to win her fourth straight overall title, which would be an American record, but her good friend and rival Riesch has been leading most of the season.

“I didn't actually know that Maria almost went out until after the race was over,” Vonn said. “When I was in the starting gate, I actually thought Maria was winning and was more motivated to attack.”

Since she left last month's World Championships in Garmisch early because of concussion symptoms from a GS training crash, Vonn has finished 6-1-2-2-2-1-3 in World Cup races, and she's closed a seemingly insurmountable deficit in the overall chase to less than 40 points.

“After Are [Sweden last weekend] things changed a bit,” Vonn said. “I was down almost 200 points and I just changed my mental approach. I basically had nothing to lose at that point and that's how I've been skiing. Hopefully I can keep that going into tomorrow's race as well as World Cup Finals.”

Sunday is the last regular-season World Cup race of the season – a slalom. Then it's World Cup Finals , where all of the race disciplines are contested.

“We've known for so many years that she can be on the podium in GS too,” head coach Alex Hoedlmoser said “It's not like this is a big surprise, now is just a really good time to do it. I have to say, things are moving in the right direction.”

Hoedlmoser said Vonn's early departure from Worlds helped her make the current push.

“That break she had after the medal at World Championships was totally the right decision,” he said. “She got some rest, which was really important and then the new mission started. She just started focusing on every race – one at a time – and started hammering it.”

Vail's Sarah Scleper was 20th today, and Vail's Mikaela Shiffrin started the race but didn't qualify for a second run.

Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic – March 11, 2011
Giant Slalom

1. Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany, 2:15.22
2. Denise Karbon, Italy, 2:16.48
3. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 2:16.67
6. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 2:17.03
20. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2:18.57
Did not qualify 1st run:
Laurenne Ross (Klamath Falls, OR), Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO)

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