Riesch tops Vonn in final downhill

Updated: March 10, 2010, 9:35 AM ET
Associated Press

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- Lindsey Vonn finished second to Maria Riesch of Germany in the final downhill of the season Wednesday, failing to clinch the World Cup overall title but maintaining a huge lead with three races to go.

Vonn finished nearly a half-second behind Riesch, but the Olympic downhill champion holds a commanding 225-point lead over her friend and rival. Vonn would have clinched the title with a win, which is worth 100 points.

"I haven't won it yet," said Vonn, who already has won the downhill title. "It's not finished yet. It's still possible [for Riesch to win], it's unlikely but it's not finished."

Riesch claimed the win over her home course with a dominating performance.

"When I crossed the line I did not look at the board immediately but when I saw that I was more than a second ahead, I thought I could win this race," Riesch said after her 14th career victory and fourth downhill win. "If Lindsey is half a second behind, I must have had a really good race."

Riesch won slalom and combined gold medals at the Vancouver Olympics.

Anja Paerson of Sweden was third, more than a second behind Riesch.

Although Riesch cut Vonn's overall lead by 20 points, the German said she had given up hope of collecting that title.

"I am still 200 points behind, I don't think it's possible," Riesch said. "The pressure is off. I am proud of today's win, this is the course for next year's world championship and it's good to know that I can be fast on it."

Riesch came down the sun-drenched 2,920-meter Kandahar course in 1 minute, 34.82 seconds. Vonn was .48 seconds behind and Paerson 1.13 seconds back.

Olympic silver medalist Julia Mancuso finished fifth, while bronze medalist Elisabeth Goergl of Austria was the only racer to crash, but appeared unhurt.

Vonn clinched the downhill title last Saturday in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, her sixth downhill win of the season. She won all but two races.

The American also is close to winning the super-G title.

Vonn is still nursing a sore right shin and a broken little finger on her right hand. She bruised the shin before the Olympics and broke the finger in a spill in the Olympic giant slalom.

Vonn can surpass Bode Miller this weekend for most World Cup wins by an American. She is tied with Miller with 32.

Miller ended his season early to rest a sore right ankle and is not competing at the World Cup finals.

The next women's race is Thursday's giant slalom.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press