MERIBEL, France – The super G season wrapped up in exciting fashion today with Lindsey Vonn holding off Anna Fenninger in both the race and the super G standings to take her second globe in as many days — and the 19th of her career. On the men’s side the title chase lacked any real drama with Kjetil Jansrud having already locked up the crystal globe two weeks ago on home snow in Kvitfjell, Norway. But Dustin Cook provided the surprise of the day with his first career World Cup win, besting Jansrud by a tight five-hundredths of a second.
The warm spring conditions that have been present all week in Meribel held steady throughout both races today. The snow was soft and peely causing trouble for athletes who tried to push the line too much while rewarding those who were clean on their skis and attacked from start to finish.
Fenninger was the first out of the start for the women in the title hunt with bib 15, and she laid down a blistering run. Bothered by a sore knee only two days ago, she showed no signs of any pain as she charged down the course to build a commanding gap over then-leader Tina Weirather by 0.71 seconds. Vonn sat in the start and witnessed the performance of Fenninger, giving her with no option but to leave it all on the hill. And leave it she did.
“I love these situations. You know, it honestly makes the choice very easy. When I knew that Anna was in the lead I said ‘OK, I either win or I go home’ and so I tried my best and I really risked a lot. Sometimes, especially on the bottom I got a little bit late, but I kept things going and I knew I had good speed,” Vonn said of her mindset in the start. “Like I said it was fun to be in the position and to be in the start and have the pressure on because there was no other option but to go as fast as I could.”
Vonn pushed out of the start and skied smartly and smoothly through the top gliding section. Then she was able to build on her advantage through the rolls and turns in the middle portion before the final tricky jump that caught many off guard. Vonn set up well coming over the jump, but was thrown low and for a split second it appeared she may fall down. But she quickly regained her composure and charged down the final pitch to steal the win and globe away from Fenninger.
“Of course these titles mean everything to me but at the same time I just love racing. I love being in the position that I was in today, under high pressure and having to come through,” said Vonn. “I love that stuff. It’s what makes ski racing exciting, and it’s what makes me motivated to keep pushing myself and keep coming back for more. It’s incredibly special and I’m very thankful.”
It was an impressive display of a tour veteran coming through under pressure when it mattered the most. Vonn held only an eight-point advantage in the super G standings over Fenninger and knew that it was a win or go home kind of day. The run was not perfect, but it was fast and calculated. It was apparent Vonn was not willing to let Fenninger beat her straight up. She was going for the win, and win she did.
“Anna put a lot of pressure on me. I knew she was leading when I was at the top, and I just skied as hard as I could,” said Vonn. “I was definitely on the limit, especially at the bottom. I just attacked like I had nothing to lose. I’m just thrilled with the win today and the second crystal globe this season.”
After Vonn crossed the finish line, the only drama left in the day was whether or not Tina Maze would overtake Fenninger in the overall standings. She put up a good fight; but as has happened over and over again at the end of this season, Maze ended up on the podium just behind Fenninger. The Slovene now trails by 32 points with two races to go.
The only other American in the race, Laurenne Ross, rebounded after a scary crash in yesterday’s downhill to finish 13th, 2.13 seconds behind her teammate. She ended the season 18th in the super G standings.
But at the end of the day, all the talk was about Vonn’s incredible comeback season. She admitted after the race that she never expected to have so much success this season, and that her most recent globes hold an extra special place in her career narrative because of what she has been able to overcome. Many questioned if she would return to her old form, but after a win in her second race of the season those questions were quickly answered. The high level of success, however, with eight World Cup wins, two crystal globes, and setting the women’s World Cup win record, were above and beyond what people expected.
“Even though I have 19, I think these two are probably the most special of all of them because, you know, I’ve been out for the past two seasons basically with two major knee injuries and pretty much everyone didn’t think I would be back,” said Vonn. “I think for myself and everyone that doubted me, this is a pretty good answer and I’m happy to be back.”
Now sights turn to next season to see what Vonn is capable of accomplishing with a full preparation period. How many more World Cups and crystal globes is she capable of winning? These will be the new questions on everyone’s mind in the offseason.
“I’m really excited for next year, it going to be fun to have a normal preparation period. I really only got maybe five days of downhill training in and maybe 20 total days of speed training in, so it was pretty minimal. And next year I’ll have the whole summer, so I’m really excited and I’m also excited to be racing GS all next year,” said Vonn of her plans. “My knee has been holding up good this year so I’m excited.”
While the men’s super G title race carried less drama than the women’s, they still provided an exciting show. Cook skied an aggressive and mistake-filled run, but it was more than enough to finish just ahead of super G title winner Jansrud. Brice Roger gave the hometown French fans something to cheer about in third, 0.08 seconds behind Cook.
Cook has been on somewhat of a tear as of late. After a surprising silver medal at the World Championships, he proved his result was no fluke with a podium in the last super G in Kvitfjell. Now he has his first career victory under his belt as well.
“I had a couple days at home to process World Champs, and that was crazy. Norway was awesome, just nice to confirm it,” said Cook of his season. “And then this was the goal, honestly, I wanted to win here really bad. To get it is a dream come true, since I was a little kid. It’s amazing.”
But the win was not without excitement. Cook, running bib 12, only took the lead from Roger by the slim eight-hundredths and only led the surprising fourth- and fifth-place finishers Marcel Hirscher and Mauro Caviezel by 0.09 and 0.11 seconds. Plus, Cook ran into trouble in the middle section and over the last jump into the final pitch that took out several racers. But as the sun kept shining and the track softened and slowed down, no one could match Cook’s time or intensity. By the time Jansrud, running bib 17, came through the finish line, it became clear that it was Cook’s day to shine.
“I made a couple mistakes, and I didn’t think it would hold up,” admitted Cook. “But I was charging 100 percent, and that’s why you make those mistakes. I think it’s better to do that than to ski perfect and be slow … At this point I don’t think it matters what’s set. As long as I’m on super G skis, I feel good.”
The surprising finish by Hirscher kept him in the lead in the overall standings, only losing 30 points to Jansrud. The Austrian now holds a 34-point advantage with only the giant slalom and slalom left to contest. Hirscher elected to start the race to gain any points he could muster, but after seeing the open and straightforward course set in the morning that would not favor his technical abilities, he never believed a high finish was possible.
“I thought, OK, today this will be a nice training run to see the terrain and the snow conditions but not more,” said Hirscher of his chances before the race. “And so I’m super happy. It surprises us so much, but I have to say the season ends on Sunday. I’ve surprised today, but I think Kjetil can surprise us on Saturday. Let’s talk about details on Sunday.”
Jansrud acknowledged that he will fight until the end in the battle for overall supremacy, but that Hirscher could secure the title with a victory in the GS on Saturday.
“Marcel is grabbing a lot of points right now and he could already wrap it up on Saturday, but I’ll just ski as fast as I can in the giant slalom and we’ll see how it goes,” said Jansrud of the chase.
Despite what appears to be a nearly foregone conclusion of a fourth straight overall title for Hirscher, Jansrud has to be more than pleased with his effort throughout the season to make it tight and exciting with only two races to go. He came into the year with only three World Cup victories to his name. This year alone he won seven races as well as the downhill and super G season globes.
Ted Ligety had an unlucky draw, getting bib 26 out of 26 starters on a day when an early bib was important in a race separated by hundredths. Bad break aside, he was hanging close through the final interval before going too direct over the final jump and missing the next gate. The only other American in the race, Andrew Weibrecht, skied a clean run, but was on the wrong side of the of the clock, just squeaking into the points in 15th but only 0.66 seconds from first. In all, the 21 finishers were separated by only 1.52 seconds total.
“Ted today was going hard – one mistake on the pitch – didn’t seem to lose much time. It was really nice to see Ted charging and on the bottom he got bounced coming out of the delay and unfortunately went out of the course,” said Men’s Head Coach Sasha Rearick. “Weibrecht just didn’t put the hammer down as hard as you could on this course set. He skied well, he made some nice turns. Unfortunately today you needed to keep the skis in the falline more than what he did.”
Individual racing resumes on Saturday with the men’s GS and women’s slalom. Tomorrow there will be a team event, but only a few nations are expected to field teams. The U.S. and Norway will not participate.
By Hank McKee
1 Cook, Head/Head/Head
2 Jansrud, Head/Head/Head
3 Roger, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
4 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Caviezel, Head/Head/Head
6 Franz, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7 Reichelt, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Theaux, Head/Head/Head
9 Feuz, Head/Head/Head
10 Pinturault, Head/Head/Head
Men’s World Cup super G, Meribel, France, March 19, 2015:
- It is the 36th of 38 races on the men’s World Cup calendar. … It is the second men’s race of World Cup Finals, an invitation event with scoing limited to the first 15 finishers. … It is the seventh of seven scheduled super G’s. … It is the 11th World Cup race hosted by Meribel. … The third for men.
- It is the first career World Cup win for Dustin Cook … his first podium came earlier this month at Kvitfjell. … He is the 25th Canadian skier to record a World Cup win. … The winning margin is 0.05 of a second. … top 16 finishers are within the same second.
- It is the 25th career World Cup podium placing for Kjetil Jansrud. … his 10th in super G. … It is his 12th podium of the season including a World Championship medal.
- It is the first career World Cup podium for Brice Roger, his previous best an eighth in super G Feb. 22 at Saalbach.
- It is the sixth best of 13 scoring finishes this season for Andrew Weibrecht. … including World Championships. … It matches the fourth best performance of the season for Manuel Osborne-Paradis, but does not including gaining any Cup points.
- Marcel Hirscher (fourth in race) maintains control of the World Cup overall standings 1298-1264 over Kjetil Jansrud. … Alexis Pinturault (10th in race) is third with 924pts. … Ted Ligety (DNF in race) is top U.S. skier in 11th with 520pts.
- Jansrud wins the super G title 556-367 over Dominik Paris (17th in race). … Matthias Mayer (DNF in race) finishes third in super G with 274pts.
- Vonn, Head/Head/Head
- Fenninger, Head/Head/Head
- Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
- Weirather, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Hosp, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Marsaglia, Volkl/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Brignone, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
- Huetter, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
- Schmidhofer, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange
Women’s World Cup super G, Meribel, France, March 19, 2015:
- It is the 32nd of 34 races on the women’s World Cup calendar with two cancellations. … It is the eighth of eight super G’s with one cancellation. … It is the 12th World Cup race hosted at Meribel, the fourth women’s super G.
- It is the 67th (record) career World Cup win for Lindsey Vonn. … The 24th super G win matching Hermann Maier for the all-time record. … It is the 286th U.S. Cup win and the 37th in super G. … It is her eighth win of the season and second at World Cup Finals this season. … the winning margin is .49 of a second. … Top two are within the same second. … Top 12 within two seconds.
- It is the 43rd career World Cup podium placing for Anna Fenninger … her 17th of the season including three World Championship medals.
- It is the 80th career World Cup podium for Tina Maze. … her 15th of the season including three World Championship medals.
- Laurenne Ross matches her sixth best placing of the season and records her best super G finish of the season.
- Fenninger holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 1453-1421 over Tina Maze. … Vonn is third with 1042pts and Mikala Shiffrin (did not race) is fourth with 900pts.
- Vonn wins the super G title, her fifth and first since 2012. … It is her second title of the season giving her 15 discipline titles and four overall titles for her career, matching her with Ingemar Stenmark for most World Cup titles.
- Fenninger finishes second in the super G standings with 512 to 540 for Vonn. … Maze is third with 390pts.
- Austria leads the women’sNations Cup 5470-2978 over the U.S. … Italy is third with 2505. … Canada is ninth with 728pts.
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|19||4||196460||JAY MARCHAND-ARVIER Marie||1985||FRA||1:10.39||+2.69||42.91|
|Did not finish 1st run|