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Vonn takes season opener with her first GS win, Mancuso tenth

Lindsey Vonn has shed a weakness. Leaving her competitors wonder if she has any left.

Vonn won her first World Cup Giant Slalom Saturday (Oct. 22) bringing her career win total to 42 and illustrating to the world she’s very serious about taking back the World Cup overall title she won in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before losing it in the final race last season.

“I worked really hard in slalom and giant slalom this summer. I spent a month in New Zealand focusing on those two events and I know I made a lot of progress. I’m glad it’s showing up in the races,” said Vonn, who collapsed with glee in the finish area. “It’s so positive for me to have this result today. I have a lot of momentum and confidence now going into the rest of the season.”

Vonn’s wins have come primarily in downhill (21) and super G (14). She also has four combined and two slalom wins. And now, to open the World Cup season, she has one in GS, too. The win moves Vonn into a tie with Anja Paerson as the fourth winningest woman in World Cup history.

Fourth after the first run, Vonn put in a stellar second run effort, notably on the lower section of the steep track down the face of the Rettenbach Glacier above Soelden. “My tactic on both runs was to ski well on the pitch but not risk too much, then right after the pitch I wanted to cary as much speed as I could onto the flats through the finish,” said Vonn, who can no longer call GS a weakness. “It’s difficult to be fast in five events, I’ve always worked really hard and tried to be successful in slalom and giant slalom but it didn’t always work out, but finally I was able to get this win today and it feels so good to finally have your hard work pay off.” 

Last season’s winner here and defending World Cup GS titleholder, German Viktoria Rebensburg came closest to catching Vonn, a scant .04 back and Austrian speed-star Elisabeth Goergl finished four tenths behind. Italian Federica Brignone held the lead after the first run by nearly a half-second but a caught outside edge high on the course forced her off course early in the second run. 

France’s Tessa Worley, who made a real name for herself last season with three consecutive GS victories, showed amazing poise in the first run. After a hard collision with a gate high on the course ripped her left pole from her hand, Worley finished the run in sixth position. In the second run, she proved she is back again this year, jumping two spots to finish the race in fourth place.

Vonn had a less-than-ideal week leading up to the opening race. She fell on her hip during a training run last Saturday on an icy slope and stayed off her skis for the remainder of the week.
 
“I fell pretty hard training on Saturday and I didn’t ski all week, so it wasn’t great preparation for Soelden but I had done it before in Aspen a few years ago where I didn’t ski before and just went to the race and did well,” said Vonn. “I knew I could do it I just had to believe in my self and believe in my skiing.”

Julia Mancuso gave the U.S. two skiers in the top 10 with a tenth place finish. “When I finish top-ten it feels good. I definitely know where I can improve, so it’s good to leave the hill with lots of positive things but also wanting more,” said Mancuso. “It’s really cool to start the season in Austria where they are stoked about ski racing, I’m super excited to be back in race mode.”

The Swedes also got two in the top 10 with Maria Pietilae-Holmner and Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in fifth and eighth respectively and the always powerful Austrians took advantage of the home snow, putting three into the top group with Anna Fenninger and Kathrin Zettel finishing in the sixth and seventh spots behind Goergl’s third.

Defending overall champion, German Maria Hoefl-Riesch stood twelfth after the first run, then completely fell apart in the second run as she struggled to keep her edges in the snow around several high-speed corners. She crossed the line in 24th. 

Canadian Marie-Michèle Gagnon struggled in her second run, but scored points in 25th place.

On what many regard as the most difficult GS course the women see all season, the first run, set by French coach Anthony Sechaud, claimed 12 DNFs, Among the non-finishers was three-time podium finisher here, Finn Tanja Poutiainen, who missed a gate in the bottom third of the course and Italian Denise Karbon, who took a hard fall high on the course, but skied down under her own power. American Sarah Schleper, who decided this morning to attempt the race despite a sore back,  stood up and skied off the course only a few gates into the first run.

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The Scoop
By Hank McKee

Equipment
Soelden    gs    10/22/2011
Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Vonn, Head/Head/Head
2 Rebensburg, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
3 Goergl, Head/Head/Head
4 Worley, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5 Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
6 Fenninger, Head/Head/Head
7 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Lindell-Vikarby, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Barioz, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10 Mancuso, Voelkl/Lange

Women’s World Cup Giant Slalom, Soelden, Austria, Oct. 22, 2011. … It is the opening race of the 2011-12 World Cup season. … It is the 26th Cup race at Soelden, the first having been held in 1993. … Victoria Rebensburg of Germany won last season, the men’s race last season was not held. Swiss Didier Cuche won in 2009.

It is the 42nd career World Cup win (A US record) for Lindsey Vonn. … the 224th American Cup victory. … It is her first GS win and just second GS podium (was 3rd at Spindleruv Mlyn March 11 last season). … It is the first Cup GS win for an American woman since Julie Parsisien was March 22, 1991 at Waterville Valley and the first for an American woman in Europe since Tamara McKinney won at Zweisel March 21, 1984. … It is the third US win at Soelden, the other two coming from Bode Miller in 2003 and 2004.

It is the sixth World Cup podium for Viktoria Rebensburg, all in GS, and her second at Soelden, the former last season’s win.

It is the 30th World Cup podium for Elisabeth Goergl. … her 13th in GS and first at Soelden. … It is her first GS podium result since placing second at Ofterschwang March 6, 2009. … She scored six podiums last season in other disciplines.

It is the 93rd World Cup top 10 for Julia Mancuso. … Her 24th in GS. … It is her second top 10 scored at Soelden having also been second in Oct. 27, 2007 behind Denise Karbon. … It is the 20th World Cup scoring result for Marie-Michèle Gagnon.

Austria leads the Nations Cup 179-126 over the U.S. … Germany is third with 120. … Canada is tenth.

Place   Soelden (AUT)   Discipline   Giant Slalom
Date   22.10.2011   Category   FIS World Cup
Race codex   5096   Gender   L
Valid for FIS Points   YES   TD Name   Odermatt Sepp (SUI)
       
  

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time FIS Points
 1  8  537544 VONN Lindsey  1984  USA   1:10.25  1:14.18  2:24.43  0.00
 2  3  205218 REBENSBURG Viktoria  1989  GER   1:09.99  1:14.48  2:24.47  0.24
 3  1  55576 GOERGL Elisabeth  1981  AUT   1:09.87  1:14.96  2:24.83  2.41
 4  6  196928 WORLEY Tessa  1989  FRA   1:10.71  1:14.52  2:25.23  4.82
 5  17  505760 PIETILAE-HOLMNER Maria  1986  SWE   1:10.35  1:14.98  2:25.33  5.42
 6  31  55947 FENNINGER Anna  1989  AUT   1:10.85  1:14.82  2:25.67  7.47
 7  2  55838 ZETTEL Kathrin  1986  AUT   1:11.40  1:14.51  2:25.91  8.92
 8  25  505632 LINDELL-VIKARBY Jessica  1984  SWE   1:10.77  1:15.19  2:25.96  9.22
 9  10  196725 BARIOZ Taina  1988  FRA   1:11.52  1:14.72  2:26.24  10.90
 10  12  537545 MANCUSO Julia  1984  USA   1:11.30  1:14.99  2:26.29  11.20
 11  32  515747 GISIN Dominique  1985  SUI   1:12.06  1:14.29  2:26.35  11.57
 12  44  355050 WEIRATHER Tina  1989  LIE   1:12.05  1:14.38  2:26.43  12.05
 13  24  206355 DUERR Lena  1991  GER   1:11.54  1:14.90  2:26.44  12.11
 14  20  55759 KIRCHGASSER Michaela  1985  AUT   1:11.63  1:14.86  2:26.49  12.41
 15  18  516138 GUT Lara  1991  SUI   1:11.36  1:15.38  2:26.74  13.91
 16  23  55818 KOEHLE Stefanie  1986  AUT   1:12.39  1:14.57  2:26.96  15.24
 17  42  196726 BARTHET Anne-Sophie  1988  FRA   1:11.90  1:15.08  2:26.98  15.36
 18  50  205239 WIRTH Barbara  1989  GER   1:12.42  1:14.69  2:27.11  16.14
 19  26  296509 CURTONI Irene  1985  ITA   1:12.38  1:14.81  2:27.19  16.63
 20  30  515766 SUTER Fabienne  1985  SUI   1:12.15  1:15.12  2:27.27  17.11
 20  16  505483 PAERSON Anja  1981  SWE   1:12.47  1:14.80  2:27.27  17.11
 22  21  296379 GIANESINI Giulia  1984  ITA   1:11.67  1:15.67  2:27.34  17.53
 23  7  565243 MAZE Tina  1983  SLO   1:11.89  1:15.65  2:27.54  18.73
 24  9  206001 HOEFL-RIESCH Maria  1984  GER   1:11.40  1:16.16  2:27.56  18.85
 25  19  105269 GAGNON Marie-Michele  1989  CAN   1:11.94  1:15.74  2:27.68  19.58
 26  35  56059 DEPAULI Jessica  1991  AUT   1:11.66  1:16.10  2:27.76  20.06
 26  15  55750 FISCHBACHER Andrea  1985  AUT   1:11.82  1:15.94  2:27.76  20.06
 28  40  565268 DREV Ana  1985  SLO   1:12.54  1:15.94  2:28.48  24.40
Disqualified 1st run
   56  306096 HOSHI Mizue  1985  JPN         
Did not qualify 1st run
   63  155728 DUBOVSKA Martina  1992  CZE         
   62  515573 AUFDENBLATTEN Fraenzi  1981  SUI         
   60  385041 NOVOSELIC Sofija  1990  CRO         
   59  705394 KANTOROVA Barbara  1992  SVK         
   58  197295 PIOT Jennifer  1992  FRA         
   57  306493 KANEKO Misato  1988  JPN         
   55  495318 RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina  1981  SPA         
   54  435210 GASIENICA DANIEL Agnieszka  1987  POL         
   53  56032 SCHILD Bernadette  1990  AUT         
   52  296476 ALFIERI Camilla  1985  ITA         
   51  297702 MARSAGLIA Francesca  1990  ITA         
   49  197319 BAUD Adeline  1992  FRA         
   48  505886 KLING Kajsa  1988  SWE         
   47  425880 SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth  1991  NOR         
   46  297195 HOFER Anna  1988  ITA         
   43  297910 CURTONI Elena  1991  ITA         
   38  206444 HOESL Simona  1992  GER         
   34  55898 BREM Eva-Maria  1988  AUT         
   29  55690 HOSP Nicole  1983  AUT         
   28  196179 BERTRAND Marion  1984  FRA         
Did not finish 2nd run
   13  296259 MOELGG Manuela  1983  ITA         
   4  297601 BRIGNONE Federica  1990  ITA         
Did not finish 1st run
   61  155699 PAULATHOVA Katerina  1993  CZE         
   45  505908 SMEDH Veronica  1988  SWE         
   41  705287 ZUZULOVA Veronika  1984  SVK         
   39  565315 ROBNIK Mateja  1987  SLO         
   37  206367 HRONEK Veronique  1991  GER         
   36  298084 AGERER Lisa Magdalena  1991  ITA         
   33  506399 HECTOR Sara  1992  SWE         
   27  106825 PREFONTAINE Marie-Pier  1988  CAN         
   22  536481 SCHLEPER Sarah  1979  USA         
   14  196793 MARMOTTAN Anemone  1988  FRA         
   11  295445 KARBON Denise  1980  ITA         
   5  185140 POUTIAINEN Tanja  1980  FIN       

Hank McKee

Senior Editor

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