Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vonn prepares for worlds with giant slalom win


Park City’s Ted Ligety, cur-rently third in the World Cup overall standings, races down the course in the Audi FIS Al-pine Ski World Cup super giant slalom Jan. 25 at Kitzbuehel, Aust. He placed sixth.
Photo by Mitchell Gunn/ESPA

     In a week when she was linked publicly in friendship with pro golfer Tiger Woods, American skiing star Lindsey Vonn, 28, of Vail, Colo. earned her 59th World Cup victory and sixth of the 2012-13 Audi FIS World Cup season.

     But the victory came in giant slalom, not speed racing.

     Vonn powerfully mastered the Golden Fox in Maribor for a stunning giant slalom victory to capture the 59th Audi FIS Alpine World Cup win of her career Saturday at Maribor, Slovenia. In six previous GS events this winter, Vonn’s best GS placing had been 21st at Aspen, Colo. Nov. 24.

     Yet Saturday, Vonn finished .08 seconds ahead of the most dominant woman on the tour, 28-year-old Tina Maze of Slovenia. Maze had won the first four GSs this season and since, has two seconds and a third.

     The four-time World Cup overall champion moved up to just three wins shy of the all-time World Cup women’s victory total of 62 held by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell. Vonn is the downhill discipline leader by a 340-211 margin over teammate Stacey Cook after five downhills.

     Despite missing many races due to illness this season, Vonn moved up to third place in the World Cup overall standings with 740 points. She has collected 236 points the past two weekends to move from sixth to third.

     Maze, seeking her first World Cup overall title, picked up 180 more points at Maribor and extended her huge point total to 1,654 points. Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch remained in second place with 806 points and Austria’s Anna Fenninger dropped to fourth place with 704.

     U.S. teenage slalom sensation Mikaela Shiffrin remained in seventh place with 578 points and Julia Mancuso, 28, is eighth (553). Shiffrin maintained her lead in the slalom standings 468-455 over Maze.

     Shiffrin and teammate Ted Ligety made a stop in Moscow for a City Event Tuesday, Jan. 29 before the FIS World Championships open on Monday, Feb. 4 at Schladming, Austria.

     Austria’s Marcel Hirscher continued to lead the men’s overall standings 1,035 to 921 over Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway. U.S. technical star Ligety stayed in third place with 736 points, just ahead of Germany’s Felix Neureuther (726). Ligety’s lead in the GS standings over Hirscher is 125 points, a margin of 460-335.

 

Women’s races at Maribor

     Third after the opening run Saturday, Vonn accelerated immediately after breaking the start wand, nearly went on her hip mid run and picked up speed all the way to the finish to win the second run.

     Vonn pushed hometown hero Tina Maze down to second place. It was Vonn's first giant slalom win since March 9, 2012 when she clinched her fourth overall title with victory in Are, Sweden.

     Interestingly, all six of Vonn's podiums this season have been victories (3 downhill, 2 super G, 1 giant slalom).

     Vonn said, “I skied well the first run, but I didn’t ski the bottom very well and in the second run I just said 'Okay, it’s all or nothing, I have to go for it.' I definitely made some mistakes but to have my first win in GS since last year is perfect.

     “When I made that mistake, I thought I wasn’t going to finish. I was like 'no, not again' because three years ago I was in second place and I crashed three gates from the finish and I didn't want to have that happen again.”

     On Sunday at Maribor, Shiffrin of Eagle-Vail, Colo. finished eighth in the Maribor slalom to retain her lead in the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom points going into Tuesday's City Event in Moscow. Vonn did not make the slalom final.

     Race winner Tina Maze did not disappoint her home town crowd and produced a brilliant wire-to-wire victory for her seventh win of the season.

     Said U.S. head coach Alex Hoedlmoer, “Lindsey and Julia used this as a training run for the World Championships super combined. They were here for the giant slalom, so we took advantage of the opportunity. There are a lot of really great things happening with the women's team as a whole and it will be exciting to see what they can do in Schladming.”

 

Men visit Kitzbuehel

     Ligety, 28, of Park City, Utah continued to show his speed in super G with an impressive sixth place to open the 73rd Hahnenkamm race weekend in storied Kitzbuehel on Friday.

     He remained third in the World Cup overall standings behind race winner Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and overall leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria. Ligety mastered the top of the notorious Steif to finish sixth for his third super G top 10 result this season and best in Kitzbuehel.

    Svindal won the race to gain ground on Audi FIS Alpine World Cup overall leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who did not compete.

     It was the final super G before the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships open Feb. 4 at Schladming, Austria.

     Ligety said, “I felt like I skied really well in sections for sure and just got locked on my edge coming over Hausberg and ditched a lot of speed there and didn’t attack it as hard as I should have. Some guys are really direct and ski it really hard and maybe it’s sloppy looking but they make up a lot of time there where I was a little bit too neat. But I’m happy to be in sixth place on this hill.

     “It’s definitely encouraging for World Champs coming up and just my consistency in super G. Outside of Val Gardena, which is never going to be a good hill for me, all my super Gs have been pretty good.”

     Said head coach Sasha Rearick, “This was by far Ted’s best result in the Kitzbuehel super G and it was a challenging course. He executed the plan right to the money. He skied aggressively.”

     On Saturday at Kitzbuehel, Dominik Paris became the first Italian since the great Kristian Ghedina to win the famed Hahnenkamm downhill for his second World Cup downhill win this season. Paris mastered the gnarly Streif in Kitzbuehel to become the first Italian since 1998 to win the Hahnenkamm. Canadian Erik Guay finished second ahead of Hannes Reichelt of Austria.

     Travis Ganong of Squaw Valley, Ca. posted the top U.S. Ski Team finish with 19th. He said, “It was really tough conditions, the track got really icy and bumpy throughout the week. Last night it was really cold and the surface got pretty hard. It was the real deal this year, definitely rough and tough, but it was fun.

     “I’m at the point now where I’m not just skiing to finish. I’m really charging and taking chances and risking more. With that will come mistakes, but it also brings a lot more speed and a puts you in the fight for the podium. Things are going in the right direction for me and I can’t wait for World Championships.”

     In Sunday’s Kitzbuehel slalom, Dartmouth grad David Chodounsky of Crested Butte, Colo. remained consistent with 21st for his fourth Audi FIS Alpine World Cup points scoring slalom of the season.

     World Cup overall and slalom leader Hirscher brought the crowd to a rocking crescendo as he became the first Austrian to win the Hahnenkamm slalom since 2005.

     German Felix Neureuther was second ahead of Croatian Ivica Kostelic, who captured the only traditional combined pairing of downhill and two runs of slalom this season.

 

U.S. World Team is named

     Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso and Mikaela Shiffrin headline a strong group of 19 athletes named Monday, Jan. 28 by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

     They will compete in the 2013 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships Feb. 4-17 in Schladming, Austria.

     The U.S. Ski Team has placed nine different athletes on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup podium this winter for a total of 24 top three results, including 15 victories.

     NBC and Universal Sports Network will combine for a full broadcast package of the entire championships. Race starters will not be finalized until the Team Captains meeting the evening prior to each event.

     On the men’s team are Ligety, Travis Ganong, Tim Jitloff, Steven Nyman, Andrew Weibrecht, Thomas Biesemeyer, Will Brandenburg, David Chodounksy, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Robby Kelley and Marco Sullivan.

     The women’s team features Vonn, Mancuso, Shiffrin, Stacey Cook, Alice McKennis, Laurenne Ross, Leanne Smith and Resi Stiegler.

     Opening ceremonies are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 4.

     Races are scheduled for:

     Feb. 5, women’s super giant slalom.

     Feb. 6, men’s super giant slalom.

     Feb. 8, women's super combined.

     Feb. 9, men’s downhill.

     Feb. 10, women’s downhill.

     Feb. 11, men’s super combined.

     Feb. 12, Nations Team Event.

     Feb. 14, women’s giant slalom.

     Feb. 15, men’s giant slalom.

     Feb. 16, women’s slalom.

     Feb. 17, men’s slalom.




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