American ski racer Lindsey Vonn ended the World Cup downhill season in dominant fashion today (March 14) taking the eighth and final downhill race of the season by almost a full second at the World Cup finals in Schladming, Austria.
Vonn, who has already claimed this season’s overall title, held the lead the entire way down the 40-gate track, jumping 0.86 seconds ahead in the middle of the course and charging to win by 0.92 seconds with a total time of one minute, 46.56 seconds.
France’s Marion Rolland, the racer to come within a second of Vonn, finished second, three-tenths of a second ahead of Slovenian Tina Maze, who collected her tenth World Cup podium of the season in third place. It was Rolland’s first career World Cup podium.
Vonn put the downhill title (her fifth straight) out of reach of anyone else last month in Sochi, Russia. Never satisfied, the American star proved to be in a class of her own this season, taking five out of eight downhill races. It was Vonn’s 12th win of the season (a new career high) and added another 100 points to lift her season total to 1908, a record for any American in World Cup history. Today’s win also marks Vonn’s 53rd career win (also an American best).
“I feel like I’ve heard the national anthem a lot this year and it’s been great,” said Vonn of hearing the Star-Spangled Banner yet again on the podium. “Everything has just gone so well this year that I can’t help but smile every day.”
Skies were sunny today in the Steiermark region of Austria and temperatures reached the high 40s by race time, softening the 1.8-mile Streicher course that will host next year’s world championships. Today’s race had an abbreviated field of just the top 25 ranked downhill racers based on their season thus far.
Today’s results caused a shuffle in the final standings below Vonn, who recorded 690 points in the downhill this season. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, who finished fourth today, moved from fourth to end the season in second with 400 downhill points. Weirather’s previous best downhill ranking was 38th in the 2010 season. Austria’s Elisabeth Goergle (ninth today) also recorded a career high ranking in third place with 384 points. German Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who stood second coming into today’s race and was one of only three women to win a downhill race this season not named Vonn, slipped off the final podium with a 13th place finish today to land fourth overall with 379 points.
Vonn led a group of six American women to reach the downhill finals.
Julia Mancuso held a good line through the top of the course but slipped behind in the middle of the hill to finish fifth and hang on to her fifth place ranking.
Alice McKennis, who returned to racing this season after suffering a broken leg in the middle of last season, had an excellent run to finish right behind Mancuso in sixth and secure a downhill ranking of 20th on the season to tie her high set in 2010.
Laurenne Ross, who started the season with a scary crash in Lake Louise, reached the World Cup finals (ranked 22 in the downhill) for the first time. She too lost time in the middle of the course but persevered to finish 15th and hold on to her 22nd ranking.
Stacey Cook was having a strong run when she fell in the traverse section near the bottom of the course and slammed into the safety netting. She was quickly able to get herself out of the nets and ski to the bottom of the hill unharmed and notched her own career best ranking in 10th. Teammate Leanne Smith exited the course early on but will return to race the super G tomorrow.
The Alpine World Cup Finals continue Thursday with the men’s and women’s super G races.
With a win in tomorrow’s super G Vonn would also clinch that discipline title and surpass retired Austrian great Hermann Maier’s record of 2000 points scored in a single World Cup season. “Today was a big step toward that goal,” said Vonn. “If all goes perfectly well, hopefully tomorrow I can win again try to close this record and try to reach a dream that I didn’t even think was close to possible.”
by Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup downhill, Schladming, Austria, March 14, 2012
1 Vonn, Head/Head/Head
2 Rolland, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
4 Weirather, Atomic/Tecnica/Atomic
5 Schnarf, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
6 Mancuso, Voelkl/Lange/Marker
7 McKennis, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Kamer, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
9 Goergl, Head/Head/Head
10 Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/
Women’s World Cup Downhill, Schladming, Austria, March 14, 2012. … It is the 34th race of the women’s 40 race 2012 World Cup schedule. … There have been three cancellations and three races remain. … It is the eighth and final downhill. … It is the second race of World Cup Finals following the men’s down hill by minutes.
It is the 53rd career World Cup victory for Lindsey Vonn in 205 scoring races. … a winning percentage over 25. … She is one from matching Hermann Maier’s win total. … It is her 26th DH win moving her past Franz Klammer into second all time behind Annemarie Moser-Proell’s 36. … It is her 12th win of the season, two behind Vreni Schneider’s record 14 from 1989.
It is the first career World Cup podium for Marion Rolland. … She had placed fourth in DH at Haus Jan. 9, 2010. … She was also fifth in the pre-Olympic DH test at Sochi Feb. 18.
It is the 38th career World Cup podium for Tina Maze. … her fourth in DH. … It is her tenth podium of the season without a win. … and first in DH.
North Americans: It is the 63rd career World Cup top six placing for Julia Mancuso. … her ninth top six of the season and fourth in DH. … It is a career best World Cup result for Alice McKennis in 17 scoring finishes. … five of them this season. … It is the fifth best career Cup result for Laurenne Ross and her second best in DH after a 10th at Garmisch Feb. 4. … It is her fourth best Cup score of the season.
Standings: Vonn ups her tour leading overall point total to 1908 over Maze at 1346. … She cannot be beaten for the World Cup Overall crown with three races remaining. … She could overtake Hermann Maier’s record point total of 2000. … Maria Hoefl-Riesch (13th in race) is third in the standings with 1195pts. … Mancuso is fifth overall with 895pts. … Marie-Michele Gagnon (did not race) is top Canadian overall in 19th with 333pts. … Vonn leads the final downhill standings 690-400 over Tina Weirather (fourth in race). … Elisabeth Goergl (ninth in race) is third in the downhill standings with 384pts. … Mancuso finishes fifth with 277pts and Stacey Cook (DNF) tenth with 172pts. … Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup standings 5214-3699 for the U.S. … Italy is third with 2811pts. … Canada tenth with 603pts. … The US women take the DH team standings 1417-781 over Austria.
Images by Gepa
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