Vonn back to form in Cortina, Smith joins her on the podium
Not that she was out of the mix for very long, but reigning World Cup Overall champion Lindsey Vonn was certainly looking to record a win in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the final downhill before the World Championships, Saturday.
Vonn, who says she's been struggling with strength due to an intestinal infection this season, simply looked stronger than the other girls on the Olimpia delle Tofane course, holding her tuck for more of the crucial upper section. Throughout her run, which wasn't flawless, Vonn maintained an advantage over then-leader Tina Maze, arching on the inside ski at one point, but exploding toward the finish on the bottom part of the course for her seventh win at the venue.
"It was a perfect day," said Vonn. "Right away from the inspection, the sun was shining the snow was perfect, and I just feel so comfortable here in Cortina. I knew today was going to be a good day. It's been a slow process building my confidence, building my strength back up to where it was. ... I said today's the day I want to be on the podium, and I skied the best that I could.
"I was definitely going for it. I risked a lot," added Vonn. "I think I still could have done better on the top section, could have been a little bit more clean. But I was able to ski a really good line on the bottom and was able to carry really good speed to the finish."
The current World Cup Overall leader, Maze, made just one small mistake, pushing it a bit low at one point. But it was ultimately good enough for second (+0.43), her best downhill result of the season.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the day came from Leanne Smith, proving she's no one-hit wonder. Running second on the start list and setting the early pace to beat, Smith was fast and steady at every stage of the course to collect her second career podium, third place, 0.89 behind the pace of Vonn.
"The snow is great. Ski racers dream of snow, a course and hill like this," said Smith. "I'm really happy to be here. This is one of my favorite stops on the tour ... I was nervous at the start. I knew I needed to be aggressive and have a light touch. I feel great about it. I was smooth, tried to push the line, had a couple little mistakes, but I think that's a good thing. If you're not pushing it, you're going to be back of the pack."
There was a lot of firepower on the slope for the American speed team. Julia Mancuso managed to crack the top ten with a consistent, steady performance. She finished 1.64 seconds back and in ninth position. Her teammates, Alice McKennis, Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross, were all tossed around a little bit, but managed strong results, finishing 11th, 15th and 27th, respectively.
"All the girls were charging and really putting it on the line," said Head Women's Coach Alex Hoedlmoser. "[I am] really, really happy with the result, and it's great that Lindsey is fully back. ... Everyone is working really hard. The whole team did a great job."
Last season's winner and host-nation favorite Daniela Merighetti, who had the fast time in training on Friday, got super late and nearly skied out of the course. Aided by a fast top section, she managed to hang on for a 28th place result.
Story by Geoff Mintz
Photos by GEPA
by Hank McKee
Women's World Cup downhill, Cortina d'Ampezzo., Italy, Jan. 19, 2013.
1 Vonn, Head/Head/Head
2 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
3 Smith, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
4 Rolland, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5 Sterz, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
6 Fenninger, Head/Head/Head
7 Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
8 Gut, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Mancuso, Head/Head/Head
10 Ruiz Castillo, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Women's World Cup downhill, Cortina d'Ampezzo., Italy, Jan. 19, 2013. ... It is the 40th race of the 2012-13 World Cup season. ... The 23rd of 38 scheduled women's races and the the 22nd held. ... It is the fifth of eight scheduled downhills. ... It is the 86th Cup race hosted by Cortina. ... The 34th downhill.
It is the 58th career World Cup win for Lindsey Vonn and 29th in downhill. ... Both marks are second all time to Annemarie Moser Proell (62-36). ... It is her seventh win at Cortina. ... third in downhill. ... It is her fifth win of the season, third in downhill. ... It is the 255th US World Cup win. ... 79th in downhill.
It is the 52nd career Cup podium for Tina Maze. ... her fifth in downhill. ... It is her 14th podium of the season and first of the season in downhill. ... It isher career best finish at Cortina.
It is the second career Cup podium for Leanne Smith, both this season and both in downhill, the previous a second place finish at Val d'Isere Dec. 14.
It is the 119th World Cup top 10 for Julia Mancuso. ... her 18th at Cortina. ... and her 15th this season. ... Alice McKennis matches her eighth best career score. ... her second best of four scores this season. ... Stacey Cook matches her fourth best Cortina finish. ... and fourth best of the season. ... It is the 34th career Cup scoring result for Laurenne Ross.
Maze leads the World Cup Overall Standings 1414-744 over Maria Hoefl-Riesch (DNF in race) with Anna Fenninger (sixth in race) in third at 630. ... Vonn is fifth with 604, Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) sixth with 526pts, Julia Mancuso eighth with 476. ... Marie-Michele Gagnon (did not race) is top Canadian in 18th with 225pts. ... Vonn controls the downhill standings 340-211 over Cook. ... Maze is third with 189pts, McKennis fourth at 180, Leanne Smith sixth with 167. ... Austria leads the women's Nations Cup 2979-2403 over the US. ... Germany is third with 1254 and Canada ninth with 531pts. ... The US leads the downhill standings 1126-685 over the Swiss.
Cortina d'Ampezzo (ITA)
FIS World Cup
Jan. 19, 2013
|10||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:40.00|
|13||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:40.35|
|35||AGERER Lisa Magdalena||1991||ITA||1:41.86|
|49||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:46.90|
|Did not start 1st run|
|SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG|
|Did not finish 1st run|