Vonn won her first World Cup Giant Slalom Saturday (Oct. 22) bringing her carer 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.
By Hank McKee
Soelden gs 10/22/2011
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.
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