Merighetti leads final World Cup downhill training, Vonn 3rd

BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria (AP) Lindsey Vonn posted the fastest legal time in a final training run for a women’s World Cup downhill, improving from being over five seconds off the lead in the first session on Friday.

The third-place American trailed Daniela Merighetti by 1.25 seconds and Viktoria Rebensburg by 0.71 in third, but the Italian and the German missed a gate and would have been disqualified in a race.

Vonn was slowed by a cold in Thursday’s training, and said she was doing ”a bit better.”

”I’m still lacking energy and I have problems breathing,” Vonn said. ”Yesterday, I was high-speed sideslipping, just checking out the slope, trying to conserve energy but also to see what the course is like. Today was more like a normal run. I have been skiing really well. I just have to have a little bit more energy.”

She has won two of the first three downhills this season. With another win in Saturday’s race, she will match the all-time record of 62 women’s World Cup wins by Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria in 1980.

Vonn’s final run on the demanding and shady Franz Klammer course edged overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.07 seconds.

”The course is very tough, very bumpy, and the light is very bad. You don’t see anything at all,” Vonn said. ”I’ve heard it will be very windy tomorrow and it will rain tonight. So I hope we’ll have a fair race.”

Maze said she was up for the challenge on the course, which is not a regular venue on the World Cup circuit.

”I like it, it’s good to have this second training to get the right downhill feeling,” the overall champion from 2013 said. ”It’s a very technically demanding course, you have to ski well.”

The 2.9-kilometer course is on a shadow side of the Carinthian Nock Mountains, and is mainly surrounded by trees.

Several skiers complained about poor visibility, making it hard to see rough spots and bumps in the icy surface.

”We know it’s icy and bumpy but it is weird the flats are harder than the steep parts,” said overall champion Anna Fenninger of Austria, who finished the training run in eighth.

The slope is named after Franz Klammer, who holds the men’s World Cup record with 25 downhill wins from 1974-84.

”It is a difficult course,” the 61-year-old Austrian said. ”But when you race well on a difficult course, the satisfaction will be even bigger.”