GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Lindsey Vonn is feeling very much at home in this southern German resort, on and off the hill.
Vonn, the overall World Cup leader, won a downhill on a demanding course by a big margin on Saturday, becoming the first woman to win multiple downhills on the Kandahar course. She also won a downhill four years ago. Vonn also has three Super-G wins and one slalom victory in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The American keeps breaking her own records with every new victory. Vonn raised her record to 38 downhill wins, the most by a woman in a specific discipline.
“Every win is more special than the last one. Every day is a new chance to break a record,” Vonn said.
On a sunny day but with most of the Kandahar course in shade, Vonn made no obvious mistakes and finished 1.51 seconds ahead of Fabienne Suter of Switzerland. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, winner of two consecutive giant slalom races coming into Saturday’s event, was third, 1.57 seconds behind Vonn.
With her 76th World Cup win, Vonn closed the gap on the all-time record of 86 victories held by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden. Vonn has won five of six downhill races this season and six of the last seven going back to last season. With 57 downhill podium finishes, she is behind only Austria’s Renate Goetschl with 59.
“You can never be unsatisfied with a one-and-a-half second lead, it was a great day, I am pretty psyched,” the American said.
With her fifth downhill win, Vonn equaled her record from the 2011-12 season. She now has nine wins overall this season.
“Everything is coming together well and I have a lot of confidence,” Vonn said.
“It feels like home here,” she said, speaking in fluent German to reporters after the race.
Vonn described how she spent time with her father, Alan Kildow, and how she had dinner at the home of her friend, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, the retired German ski star.
That was where Vonn had the only slightly embarrassing moment, when her new puppy Lucy left a mark on the Riesch carpet. Obviously, Lucy needs to be more housebroken.
On the hill, only two of the first seven starters completed the course in tricky visibility, with shady and sunny sections. The race was interrupted several times to renew markings on the course.
“I skied this course a few times now and I think I had an advantage in that regard.” Vonn said. “I knew exactly where I had to push the line and where I had to give extra direction to make sure I was safe in some sections and to take speed to the finish line. There were a lot of tactics involved.”
“It was definitely pretty difficult to find the right line, to find where you could attack and where you couldn’t,” said Vonn, who covered the 2,740-meter course in one minute, 40.80 seconds.
“It was bumpy where there is only shadow and a lot of girls had problems there.”
Larisa Yurkiw of Canada was fourth, with another American, Laurenne Ross, fifth. Last season’s winner, Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, was sixth.
Vonn increased her overall season lead over Lara Gut of Switzerland to 127 points. Gut made a mistake and nearly missed a gate to finish 14th. Vonn is 172 points clear of Yurkiw in downhill standings.
A Super-G is scheduled for Sunday.
This story has been corrected to show that Vonn is 172 points clear of Yurkiw in downhill standings.
Nesha Starcevic, The Associated Press
photos Janos Schmidt