Vonn claims seventh downhill win in Austria
December 22, 2007
Move over, Picabo – you’ve got company.
Street, the most successful female downhiller in U.S. history with nine World Cup victories, still leads that parade. However, she was tied Friday in St. Anton, Austria, when good friend – and fellow park City resident – Lindsey (Kildow) Vonn streaked to the seventh DH win and ninth overall of her career. She pushed her DH standings lead to more than 100 points.
And she did it in the aggressive, take-no-prisoners style that brought Street two World Cup downhill titles. Street used to discuss "my tiger inside" that fired her up to stomp the speed runs of the mid-Nineties. Vonn hasn’t identified inner pets, but the inner fire is pure Street, pure champion – pure Vonn.
Her winning time was 1:32.00. Canadian Kelly VanderBeek, was runner-up in 1:32.36 for her first World Cup podium. Park City Winter Sports School grad Julia Mancuso (1:32.38) filled the last spot on the podium.
The 2001 World Championships in snow-spanked St. Anton had the men and women racing on separate speed runs. This time, though, the women tackled the men’s DH run. There had been training crashes because of the upgrade in challenging terrain, but women have asked to run on men’s tracks for years and they relished the chance to do it this week.
Vonn inexplicably had problems at the start and in the middle, but regrouped as she came through the bottom section, shaving a half-second off VanderBeek’s time through that stretch. She went from two-tenths down to three-tenths-plus to the good.
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"I can’t believe this," an ecstatic Vonn said. "After five gates, I really thought it was all over. But I stayed cool and just tried to go down full speed…
"Many [women’s] hills are just too easy," she said, "but this one demands everything of the racers."
It reminded some observers to her sprint to the silver medal in downhill at the worlds Championships last February in Sweden. She had a mid-race bobble then, too, and said "I turned my brain off" and rocketed to the bottom for her second Worlds silver medal.
"Lindsey was on edge all the way," Coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. "So was Jules. She almost lost it at the bottom, but somehow she pulled it back together and still made the podium."
After four World Cup downhills, Vonn is well in front – 330 points to 224 for Britt Janyk, who picked off her first World Cup win two weeks ago in the downhill at the Audi Aspen Winternational.
The women have a super combined today in St. Anton, mixing an abbreviated downhill and one run of slalom. Then it’s off for the Christmas holidays (Vonn will spend them with good pal Maria Riesch, the German star.)