Vonn reclaims red bib in St. Moritz
December 18, 2007
Lindsey (Kildow) Vonn, who lives in Park City with husband Thomas Vonn but claims Vail, Colo., as her home, is the World Cup downhill points leader as the tour goes on a siesta break past Christmas.
Vonn reclaimed the red leader’s bib Saturday in St. Moritz, Switzerland when she finished second to Anja Paerson of Sweden in the third DH of the season. Last February at the 2007 World Championships in Are, Sweden, it was the same finish: Paerson for gold, Vonn (then still Kildow) for silver.
This time, there was an extra wrinkle of coincidence in the race. St. Moritz hosted the 2003 World Championships. Vonn didn’t get to race because she had dinged a hip at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies when she crashed coming into the final straight-away to the finish line.
Since that crash, Vonn has emerged as one of the premier skiers, especially in speed events (i.e., downhill and super-G). She’s won eight World Cup races and had 15 other podiums, and added two World Championships silver medals (behind Paerson each time in DH and super-G last February).
Saturday, Paerson won with a time of 1:39.32 – just eight-hundredths up on Vonn. Maria Riesch of Germany was third in 1:39.65. Park City Winter Sports School alum Julia Mancuso was 10th.
Riesch, one of Vonn’s best friends on the tour, will play host to Vonn next week for the Christmas holidays. She’ll stay in Europe rather than undergo the rigors of traveling home for a few days before putting a U-turn in her travel and have to endure another flight to Europe. No travel and sharing Christmas with a friend and her family. Sounds like a nice present.
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"Maria’s a good friend and we enjoy hanging out," Vonn said. "It was so cool to be on the podium together, although I wish we’d been 1-2 – with me No. 1. Her family is always so welcoming to me, so it’ll be a nice holiday."
Vonn had a smokin’ run underway until she caught an edge midway through the run. It interrupted her flow as she instantly regained her composure, but when you lose by 0.08 seconds, it’s easy to spot where you lost that micro-second of time.
Coach Alex Hoedlmoser said the bobble occurred in front of him and he was pleased to see how rapidly she rebuilt her speed. "I could just about reach out and touch her when it happened, she was so close," he said.
"She was attacking all the way, really charging, and definitely was in the hunt again. A little bobble like that happens sometimes when you’re going for it like she was."
Sunday in super-G, it was Paerson again for the win as she took the World Cup overall points lead. Her time was 1:15.06, just nudging Canadian Emily Brydon (1:15.10) with Austrian great Renate Goetschl in third place (1:15.28).
With 37 World Cup victories, Paerson – who hails from Tarnaby, home of Swedish icon Ingemar Stenmark – is 49 wins away from tying her idol. Stenmark’s 86 World Cup wins is the all-time high-water mark for men or women.
Mancuso, with a time of 1:15.57, was 10th again, Vonn 12th and Libby Ludlow 24th.
Head Coach Patrick Riml pointed to the closeness of the race with Mancuso and Vonn within a half-second of Paerson. "Things are so tight."
Vonn had a problem on the upper section of the course and momentarily went down on a hip. Mancuso lost time with a bobble on the bottom of the course.
The women’s next races are Friday and Saturday in St. Anton, Austria, the 2001 alpine Worlds venue. They run downhill Friday and have a super combined (a downhill and one run of slalom) Saturday. WCSN.com will have same-day Web-streaming coverage at 10 a.m.