Lindsey Vonn falls back in title chase

Updated: February 6, 2011, 11:11 AM ET
Associated Press

ZWIESEL, Germany -- Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany won a women's World Cup giant slalom race Sunday, and World Cup leader Maria Riesch extended her lead on defending champion Lindsey Vonn.

Rebensburg had a comfortable lead after the first run and held on to earn her second career World Cup victory, clocking a combined time of 1 minute, 36.96 seconds on the Arberg course. Federica Brignone of Italy earned her best career result in taking second in 1:37.49 and Kathrin Zettel of Austria was third in 1:37.85.

"It's always an amazing feeling to win a race, I am now really looking forward to the worlds," Rebensburg said of the championships that begin Tuesday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, with the women's super-G.

Riesch placed 11th, 1.56 seconds behind Rebensburg, her German teammate. Vonn finished 18th and trails Riesch by 156 points in the overall standings.

The American returned to the slopes after sitting out Friday's slalom following a heavy crash in training two days earlier that resulted in a concussion.

In a note on her Facebook page before Sunday's race, Vonn said she felt "considerably better than I did a few days ago."

Head U.S. women's coach Alex Hoedlmoser was satisfied with Vonn's performance heading into worlds.

"[Vonn skied] awesome in the steeps today, it was fantastic actually," he said. "Then she started to back off a bit on that last break over, but her GS is still very strong. She just needs to keep the intensity all the way to the finish."

The three-time defending overall champion was 1.94 seconds behind the winner to equal her worst finish this season in races she has completed.

Julia Mancuso placed 21st for the U.S. and Sarah Schleper was 25th in the race that was postponed from Saturday. Fog and wind also delayed Sunday's start by nearly three hours.

That led to a late departure on the three-hour drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

"They were so desperate to get this GS completed we had to wait it out," Hoedlmoser said. "But it always comes at an expense, especially for Lindsey and Julia, who need to go straight into the super-G and downhill training runs and then into the [technical] races.

"It's going to be a lot of days in a row and is far from ideal preparations for the world championships."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press