ASPEN, CO (Nov. 30) - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) finished fourth for the second time this weekend as she tackled a windy slalom course at the Aspen Winternational Sunday. Sarka Zahrobska of the Czech Republic put together two runs that earned her the first World Cup victory of her career.
photo Doug Haney US Ski Team
"I'm really psyched about it. It was a solid weekend. I was just off the podium on both days, but considering I was on crutches just a few days ago, it's a good weekend," said Vonn, who suffered a bone bruise in her left knee while training for the World Cup.
"I had a pretty conservative first run because my knee wasn't feeling that hot after the warmup. Second run it was feeling better and I just tried to go as fast as I could, but I just couldn't make up the time difference. I'm happy with fourth.
The wind in Aspen, which caused a couple of course holds during the slalom, made for tricky conditions that no racer was able to avoid during the slalom
"It was really windy. It was the luck of the draw whether you got a big gust or not, but in general, I think everyone got wind," Vonn said. "It was just a matter of fighting as hard as you can and dealing with the conditions that you had. Unfortunately I think I got pretty bad wind on both runs, but I still got fourth so it's not so bad."
For women's Alpine Head Coach Jim Tracy, Vonn's performance showed she has what it takes to contend in slalom.
"When Lindsey came on her second run, it was blowing pretty hard. But, nevertheless, we're all super happy that she's shown that she can be right there with the heavy hitters in slalom again," Tracy said. "If we have a good weekend next weekend, that will certainly give her an amount of confidence that will carry on for quite a while."
According to Vonn, a major source of joy in this World Cup came from having the support of a great fan section.
"There was amazing fan support here and it's just great to be back on snow and in aspen," Vonn said. "I wish I could have had a podium for the home crowd."
While winner Zahrobska celebrated a personal best with her first win, Hailey Duke (Boise, ID) and Sterling Grant (Amery, WI) were thrilled with some success of their own as they each marked a personal World Cup best. Duke, a Park City Ski Education Foundation racer, finished 21st to earn her first World Cup points and Grant, who races with Buck Hill Ski Team, was 29th, marking her first qualification for a second run.
For Duke, there wasn't one particular thing that helped her achieve her new mark - there were many things.
"It isn't just one thing that comes together," Duke said. "You just keep plugging away and you figure out the little things like your hands need to be up, get your butt forward... eventually you figure it out."
"For the younger ones it's always a big deal if they can qualify for the second run and ski solid enough to earn those points. That was a huge deal for her for sure," Tracy said.
According to Duke, her new level of success will only help her out in her races to come.
"Now I have World Cup points and I know I can do it. I just have more motivation to just keep at it," Duke said. "I have it under my belt and I can kind of throw myself down the hill and see what happens. I can let it go a little bit more and see what happens."
Following the race, Vonn remains the World Cup slalom leader and trails 31 points behind Finland's Tanja Poutianen for first in the overall.
The women now head to Lake Louise, ALB, where they will kick off the first World Cup speed races of the season. Vonn has been on the podium in Lake Louise seven times in the last four seasons, four of which were wins in downhill. UniversalSports.com
will provide on demand coverage of the Aspen Winternational.
For photos from aspen click here.
For audio from aspen click here.
2009 AUDI FIS WORLD CUP
Aspen, CO - Nov. 30, 2008
1. Sarka Zahrobska, Czech Republic, 1:39.32
2. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 1:39.55
3. Tanja Poutianen, Finland, 1:40.29
4. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:40.73
5. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 1:40.75
21. Hailey Duke, Boise, ID, 1:44.27
29. Sterling Grant, Amery, WI, 1:48.29
DNS: Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO)
DQ: Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA), Kiley Staples (Park City, UT), Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN)
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For complete results click here.