Injured Vonn retains downhill title
Lindsey Vonn had the weather on her side this time when it came down to deciding a World Cup title.
Fog canceled racing on Wednesday, giving the injured Vonn a record sixth straight World Cup downhill title without having to show up on the mountain. The title comes five weeks after a crash and season-ended knee injury for the American.
The cancellation allowed Vonn to retain her title – just one point ahead of overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia.
”Omg I won the World Cup Downhill title!!!!! 6 in a row with a bum knee!” Vonn wrote on her Facebook page.
Two years ago, Vonn was denied a chance at a fourth straight overall title by similar weather conditions in Lenzerheide. The season-ending giant slalom was canceled and Vonn lost by three points to her good friend Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.
”Everything in life comes back around,” wrote Vonn, whose title streak is a downhill record in 47 seasons of men’s and women’s World Cup racing.
Maze was trying to become the first woman to win five crystal globes in a season – the overall and four discipline titles – but conceded defeat in a Twitter post to Vonn.
”I guess the DH globe belongs to someone else, Congratulation Lindsey! What goes around comes around!” wrote Maze, who already won the overall title with a record point total.
Hoefl-Riesch, who had a slim chance of winning the downhill title, quickly sent Vonn a message on her Twitter account.
”Congrats to (at)lindseyvonn for the dh globe! Now you know how I felt 2 years ago ;-),” Hoefl-Riesch wrote.
Fog hung on the lower slopes all day and forced the International Ski Federation to cancel the men’s and women’s downhill.
On Thursday, Maze will be favored to take Vonn’s super-G title. She holds a 55-point lead over American Julia Mancuso with 100 points awarded to the race winner.
Vonn’s downhill title gave her a World Cup record 17th crystal globe, overtaking Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell. The 28-year-old has won four overall titles and 13 in individual disciplines.
Vonn raced in only five of the seven downhills, winning twice at Lake Louise, Alberta, after recovering from a stomach illness.
”Coming back from that and then going to Lake Louise and pulling off those wins was very, very impressive,” said Alex Hoedlmoser, the U.S. women’s team head coach. ”It’s really cool to see actually that she’s going to get the reward with the globe.”
Vonn came home from Europe for a midseason break before getting a third victory in January at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Vonn has been stuck at 340 downhill points since her crash on Feb. 5 in the world championships super-G in Schladming, Austria. She tore her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and broke a bone in her lower leg when her ski stuck in softer snow when landing a jump in a race delayed by fog.
That allowed an opening for Maze, who finished fourth in Meribel, France, and won her second career World Cup downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, to get within a point of Vonn.
The American got an assist from unheralded Spanish racer Carolina Ruiz Castillo, whose victory in Meribel pushed Maze down one place and cost her 10 World Cup points.
Vonn’s injury has stalled the pursuit of Moser-Proell’s record of 62 career World Cup race wins at 59.