SPINDLERUV MLYN, Czech Republic German Viktoria Rebensburg had a great day on the Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic giant slalom track today (March 11), leading all day to take the World Cup win along with the discipline lead.
Rebensburg, the reigning Olympic GS champion, claimed the fastest times in both runs to earn her third giant slalom victory of her career (all this season) with a substantial 1.26-second advantage on Italian Denise Karbon in second place. American Lindsey Vonn grabbed her first ever giant slalom World Cup podium (she has 79 others) in third place, 1.45 seconds behind the winner.
Rebensburg, who also won the last World Cup GS in Arber-Zwiesel more than a month ago, came into the weekend trailing French Tessa Worley, who also has three wins this season, by 23 points at the top of the giant slalom rankings. Worley missed a gate in the first run, making next week's World Cup Finals race the title decider as Rebensburg took over the lead with a 77-point advantage.
"In the second run, I have no idea what happened. I just skied like I know how and it worked,” Rebensburg told Reuters. "But I must not start calculating now; I just need to stay focused.”
A light rain dripped during the morning’s first run but let up in the afternoon as skies remained overcast.
Vonn trailed German Maria Riesch by 96 points in the overall standings coming into this weekend but now stands only 38 points behind after Riesch finished 29th today. Five races remain on this season's World Cup calendar.
“It feels really good. I’ve been waiting a long time for a good result in giant slalom and I finally put down two aggressive, clean runs,” said Vonn, who last weekend secured three season discipline titles (super combined, super G, downhill). “I knew the skiing was there, I’ve been training well, it was just a matter of executing on race day. I think it was great timing to say the least.”
Riesch made a big mistake at the top of the course during her second run and nearly missed a gate as she lost all her speed. She skied across the course to catch the missed gate but the damage was done. It was her worst finished World Cup result of the season, she also has two DNFs.
Vonn, who stood eighth after the first run, saw a chance to make up some ground in the overall standings after Riesch’s disastrous run two racers earlier. She came down with the second-fastest second-run time screaming with satisfaction in the finish area. Her previous GS best finish came in 2008 with a fourth-place result in Aspen.
Warm temperatures for the afternoon run made for a difficult track for some of the later starting, first-run leaders but Vonn remained focused on capturing a top result in the only discipline she has never podiumed in.
“I just tried to attack and ski well and thankfully I was close enough to the top three after the first run that I could take some chances in the second run and make up some time and thankfully it worked out,” said Vonn, who has finished in the top three of the last six World Cup races.
"We've known for so many years that she can be on the podium in GS too,” said U.S. head coach Alex Hoedlmoser of Vonn, who finally landed on the podium on her 50th attempt at a World Cup GS. “It's not like this is a big surprise, now is just a really good time to do it. I have to say, things are moving in the right direction.
"That break she had after the medal at World Championships was totally the right decision. She got some rest, which was really important and then the new mission started,” continued Hoedlmoser. “She just started focusing on every race – one at a time – and started hammering it."
World Championships gold and silver medalists Tina Maze of Slovenia and Federica Brignone of Italy were just off the podium on fourth and fifth, respectively.
Julia Mancuso, who turned 27 on Wednesday, put two solid runs together to finish sixth after standing ninth in the first run. It was her 17th top-ten finish of the season. Sarah Schleper finished 20th after standing 26th in the first run. Laurenne Ross didn't qualify for the 30-woman second run after finishing 41st in the first run.
Today’s race marked the World Cup debut of 15-year-old American Mikaela Shiffrin, who won a World Juniors bronze medal in the slalom and currently leads the NorAm slalom standings as a rookie with three wins. The Burke Mountain Academy product got her first taste of the big show in the 46th bib of 49. She finished the first run in 43rd, 4.64 seconds behind the leader. She will also start in tomorrow’s slalom.
Canadians Marie-Pier Prefontaine and Marie-Michele Gagnon landed 18th and 19th, respectively.
World Cup racing in Spindleruv Mlyn continues tomorrow with a slalom before racing shifts to Lenzerheide, Switzerland March 16-20 for the World Cup Finals.
For more details including results visit SkiRacing.com.
This text content is courtesy of Ski Racing Magazine