Lindsey Vonn clinches super-G title
TARVISIO, Italy -- Lindsey Vonn clinched her third discipline title in three days with a super-G victory Sunday to wrap up a memorable weekend of racing.
Vonn took the super-combined and downhill titles the past two days and has moved within 96 points of German rival and good friend Maria Riesch in the overall standings with six races remaining this season.
"It was a great weekend for me," Vonn said. "I was most happy about the super-combined title -- it's been a really tough season for me in slalom and to finally put a slalom run down that was right in there with all the other girls made me really happy.
"But I wanted to try to end the weekend with a win and I'm really happy that I was able to do that," added Vonn, who placed second Friday and Saturday.
Vonn holds an insurmountable 171-point lead over Riesch in the super-G standings with only one race remaining in the discipline this season.
Vonn clocked 1 minute, 21.75 seconds down the sun-drenched Prampero course. Fellow American Julia Mancuso was second, 0.23 behind, and Riesch was third, 0.50 back.
In a banner day for the Americans, World Cup rookie Laurenne Ross was fourth, 0.70 behind, for her career-best result.
The last time U.S. women took three of the first four spots was on Jan. 14, 2007, in a super-combined race in Zauchensee, Austria, with Mancuso first, Vonn second and Resi Stiegler fourth.
"It's incredible. The team has such good energy right now and we're all working off each other," Vonn said. "All the girls -- Laurenne and Leanne [Smith, who finished 11th] -- are always wanting to learn and are always pushing themselves, and you can see every race they're getting better and better. It shows how much depth we have and how well we're working as a team, so I'm really happy for everyone."
Vonn, Mancuso and Ross stood 1-2-3 until Riesch came down and ended the chances of the U.S. team's first podium sweep. Still, Ross earned a spot at World Cup finals, where only the top 25 ranked skiers in each discipline qualify.
Vonn couldn't celebrate when she came down because Riesch and other top-ranked skiers were still to start. When the results became clear, however, her joy was evident.
Vonn skipped the second half of last month's world championships to recover from a mild concussion that left her temporarily "skiing in a fog."
"It was just a matter of being able to focus and concentrate that was slowing me down," she said. "That time off was what has enabled me to ski the way I am now. I'm really thankful that we had the foresight to do that, and that I had support from my doctors, my coaches and my husband. That's what really has gotten me through this ordeal."
It was the eighth win for Vonn this season and the 41st of her World Cup career, moving her within one win of fourth on the all-time list tied with Sweden's Anja Paerson, who finished fifth Sunday to follow up her downhill victory a day earlier.
Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell is tops on the women's career list with 62 wins, Switzerland's Vreni Schneider has 55 and Austria's Renate Goetschl 46.
The women's circuit now travels to Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, for giant slalom and slalom races next weekend, the last stop before the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland March 16-20.
"I can't lose anymore points to [Riesch] the rest of the season if I want to win the [overall] title, and that's going to be really tough to do, but it's still possible," Vonn said.
"It's a lot different when you're in the lead for the title by only 96 points and trailing by 96 points. I've been in that position before and it's not an easy one. It's a lot of pressure and a lot of stress, so you never know what's going to happen and I just have to keep trying to ski the best that I can and really risk."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press