CRANS MONTANA, Switzerland — Olympic downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) locked up her third consecutive Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill title Saturday with her sixth win in the discipline this season. The victory also marks Vonn’s 10th World Cup win this year to set a new American single season record. It also ties her with Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) with 32 career World Cup victories, the most of any American.
“I’m really happy with the whole season and it’s nice to come back to the World Cup and end the season strong,” Vonn said.
In her first World Cup race back from the 2010 Olympics where she took the gold in downhill and bronze in super G, Vonn marked off her third discipline title with the win.
“It’s been a great season and I’m really happy with everything that’s happened,” Vonn said.
But, the downhill title did not come without a fight not only against a talented field of racers, but also the conditions presented by Mother Nature this weekend.
“It was a tough race out there today. There was a lot of changing weather conditions. Sometimes there would be a headwind, sometimes a tailwind, it was snowing really hard and there was a lot of new snow n the track. It was changing a lot from racer to racer,” Vonn said.
According to the Olympic champ, the variable conditions made it difficult to know how she was doing during her race. It wasn’t until she crossed the finish line that she saw where her skiing had landed her – in first.
But as the falling snow turned light, a bevy of talented young racers took full advantage of the conditions to attack from the later starting bibs. In the top five, only Vonn started inside the top 30 racers. Italy’s Johanna Schnarf rocketed from bib 32 to second, missing the win by .01, while third place went to former Junior World Champion Marianne Abderhalden of Switzerland from bib 35. Slovenian Merusa Ferk landed 4th from the 42nd start postion followed by Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany from No. 37.
The onslaught ultimately bumbed Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO) out of what could have been a solid top 10 finish.
“I thought I had a good run. It was hard to tell sometimes because the track was so slow and a lot different than it was in the training runs, so I definitely didn’t know how I skied until I crossed the finish line,” Vonn said. “I’m really happy with how the day turned out and to have another win this season is awesome.”
With another title waiting on the line for Vonn, who currently sits at the top of the overall World Cup standings, she hopes to be able to keep carrying her momentum through the end of the season.
“I’m going to keep things going through to finals and hopefully I can stay in the lead in the overall,” Vonn said.
Staying on track for the overall title includes doing well in Sunday’s super G in Switzerland, which Vonn hopes to do well in with a potential change for the better in weather conditions.
“I heard the weather is supposed to be better, but it’s been interesting conditions so far, so I hope that we get a good race and that there is less wind than there has been in the last few days,” Vonn said.
Adding to the excitement of the day, four other U.S. racers, led by McKennis in 12th, made their way into the World Cup points.
“I think the U.S. girls did a great job today. Everyone skied really well. Alice had a great result, as did the rest of the girls, and I’m very proud of the whole team,” Vonn said.
The women race again Sunday in Switzerland during a super G. Fans can watch live at UniversalSports.com.
2010 AUDI FIS WORLD CUP
Crans Montana, Switzerland – March 6, 2010
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:35.26
2. Johanna Schnarf, Italy, 1:35.27
3. Marianne Abderhalden, Switzerland, 1:35.64
4. Marusa Ferk, Slovenia, 1:35.65
5. Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany, 1:35.87
12. Alice McKennis, Glenwood Springs, CO, 1:36.38
20. Chelsea Marshall, Pittsfield, VT, 1:36.76
21. Laurenne Ross, Klamath Falls, OR, 1:36.78
29. Leanne Smith, Conway, NH, 1:37.31
31. Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 1:37.44
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