Alpine

Challenging Day for Vonn at Worlds

by
USSA
2015-02-09 17:11
 

VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 9. 2015)—It was another day full of action on Monday at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, CO for the women’s alpine combined. Slovenia’s Tina Maze displayed speed in the morning’s downhill and technical prowess in the afternoon’s slalom to win her ninth career World Championship medal. Rounding out the women’s combined podium were Nicole Hosp and Michaela Kirchgasser, both from Austria. Hopes were high for Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), who took seventh in the downhill before straddling in the slalom and DNFing. Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) was the top finishing American in 14th place.

The U.S. Ski Team started four athletes in the women’s combined—Jacqueline Wiles (Aurora, OR), Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR), Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), and Vonn. The four American athletes skied hard and courageously on Monday against an international field comprised of the best 27 female skiers in the world. However, the downhill and slalom runs in the combined event proved to be a tough challenge for the American women.


Lindsey Vonn finished seventh in the downhill portion of the race, before DNFing the slalom. (Cody Downard)

The one-day women’s combined event was stocked full of action. The morning’s downhill track was very fast due to the slick, icy surface and the technical course. Maze sat atop the downhill standings after the morning run, trailed by Lara Gut of Switzerland and Austria’s Anna Fenninger. Vonn, the highest American in the combined downhill, sat in seventh place. Vonn’s downhill time was 1.31 seconds off Maze’s, meaning she would have to ski a flawless slalom run in the afternoon to have a shot at medaling. Ross was the second American finisher, taking 10th, while Mancuso was 17th and Wiles 18th.

After trading long skis for short skis, the athletes transitioned from a downhill mindset to the technical slalom course. Salted because of warm temperatures and set by Maze’s Slovenian coach to favor the speed skiers, the slalom track was in prime condition for the female skiers to set an edge. However, the slalom specialists put on a clinic and left an indelible mark on the women’s combined event.

Eyeing her ninth World Championships medal and her third of the 2015 World Champs, Maze was the last skier to slide into the start gate. She has her eyes on an unprecedented opportunity to take home five medals from the 2015 World Championships, but to do so required her breaking up an all-Austrian podium in the women’s combined. She stepped up to the challenge, ending with a combined total time 0.22 seconds faster than silver medalist Nicole Hosp of Austria. Winning bronze was Hosp’s Austrian teammate Michaela Kirchgasser.


Laurenne Ross was the top American finisher of the day, finishing in 14th place. (Getty Images-AFP/Nathan Bilow)

Vonn’s commitment to continuing her dominant season in front of her hometown fans was evident as she attacked the slalom course with the intention of earning a podium spot. Unfortunately, she hooked a ski at the top and straddled a gate, veering off course. After her DNF, Vonn fought away tears in the finish line coral to address her fans.

"I’m just really disappointed,” said an emotional Vonn. “It’s a hometown World Championships and I really tried as hard as I can. I came up short and that’s disappointing for myself and to my family and my fans.”

The rest of the American women, who are more speed-oriented racers, finished in the top 20. Ross took 14th, Mancuso 15th and Wiles 17th. The top 15 at World Champs score World Cup points, so both Ross and Mancuso scored some in Monday's race.

There is still a lot of momentum for the athletes, with the famed team event taking place on Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO), Mancuso, Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, WA), Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) and Will Brandenburg (Spokane, WA) will all race the event. It will air on Universal Sports Network at 4:00 p.m. EST.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • This was the race that Tamara McKinney won in 1989. That was the last time the U.S. Ski Team won a gold medal at a World Championships on American soil. McKinney was in the stands at Monday’s race.
  • Wiles wore a helmet with the initials of her late teammates Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack on it.
  • Of Vonn’s 64 career World Cup victories, she has won only two slalom races in the past—one in Garmisch in 2009 and one in Levi in 2008. 

QUOTES
Lindsey Vonn
I’m just really disappointed. It’s a hometown World Championships and I really tried as hard as I can. I came up short and that’s disappointing for myself and to my family and my fans. I just didn’t figure out this hill at all. Especially in terms of today, because I actually skied really good slalom the last two days and I thought I had a chance of getting a medal. But I have one more chance in the GS and I’ll do my best there. But I have a lot of expectations and I tried my best to live up to them, but I just didn’t. 

I’m going to try to forget today as fast as possible, and move on to the next race. I’m going to try and take tomorrow off, get my knee rested and hopefully get ready for GS. The ice this morning took a toll on my knee. I really tried hard today, but it hurt a lot. It is what it is.

I just didn’t feel like I had any grip whatsoever. I hit a rock. It’s hard to hold an edge when you have no edge! But I tried my best. This ice just doesn’t feel good on my knee. It’s pretty sore. I’m going to try as hard as I can in the slalom. All of the slalom skiers are fast in the downhill—it’s a pretty technical downhill. I’ll just do my best and see what happens.

As soon as I got to the turns—all my right footers—I just couldn’t hold. I felt like I came in with a high line and kept drifting lower and lower and lower. That’s not fast. I caught an edge again on the bottom going into the flats, and that isn’t fast either. I’m struggling with this downhill. I haven’t skied ice since my injury. I need a little more practice before I can be fast on it.

RESULTS
Women's alpine combined results

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