TARVISIO, Italy – It's official, Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) is the winningest female ski racer in American history. The 24-year-old double World Champion secured her 19th World Cup victory Sunday with a super G win in Tarvisio, surpassing U.S. great Tamara McKinney's previous high mark of 18 established in the 1980s.
It was Vonn's sixth World Cup win of the season and 43rd podium of her young career. She now stands an impressive third for all-time U.S. World Cup wins (male or female) behind Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) with 31 and Phil Mahre with 27.
"It sounds really weird to me," said Vonn, who captured gold in both downhill and super G at the recent FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. "I don't see myself as a record setter and actually never thought it was possible to pass a legend like Tamara.
"I'm extremely thrilled and hope that a lot of kids see what's possible in ski racing and become inspired. More than any title or record, I want to be a good example to young athletes. The same way Tamara and Picabo [Street} were for me."
"This is sweet for sure. As a coach, you hope to get an athlete to work with like Lindsey and we have more of them on this Team," said U.S. Ski Team Speed Head Coach Alex Hoedlmoser.
Vonn also holds a commanding 299-point lead over best friend Maria Riesch of Germany in the overall standings with nine races remaining. No American woman has ever won back-to-back World Cup overall titles.
"My big goal for this weekend was to build my points total for the overall," said Vonn, who also leads the World Cup downhill standings.
Trailing after the first timing interval, Vonn took over through the middle and bottom sections of the course holding her powerful tuck through difficult light nearly the entire length of the slope and gaining speed all the way to the finish. Her time of 1:21.72 posted a full .51 seconds over second place finisher Fabienne Suter of Switzerland.
"I definitely lose a little at the start, but I have to just push that much harder through the rest of the course," said Vonn, referring to the repaired tendon in her right thumb. "It's not something I even think about when I'm racing. I know it's there and I have to push harder out of the start with my left hand, but other than that, I just ignore the pain and race."
The last three super G races have ended with a Vonn victory including a one-day delayed race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany on Feb. 1 and the World Championships just two days later in Val d'Isere, France. With two super G's left on the calendar, Vonn sits 39 points behind Nadia Fanchini of Italy for the season-long discipline title.
"I realized that if I wanted to be up there in super G, I had to find a balance of aggression. I couldn't be conservative, but I couldn't be too aggressive either. I think I found that in Garmisch and I've been skiing with that confidence since."
The women's White Circus rolls on to a new stop in Bansko, Bulgaria next week for two downhills and a super G, the last speed races before the March 9-15 World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden.
"We have three speed races coming up and that's what we're looking at now. Lindsey's win was great, but some of the young ones didn't perform the way we know they can. As a coach, I'm also looking to get them up to the next level," Hoedlmoser said.
OFFICIAL RESULTS 2009 AUDI FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP Tarvisio, Italy - Feb. 22, 2009 Super G
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:21.72 2. Fabienne Suter, Switzerland, 1:22.23 3. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1:22.23 4. Kathin Zettel, Austria, 1:22.40 5. Nadia Fanchini, Italy, 1:22.53 - 25. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 1:23.03 - 33. Keely Kelleher, Big Sky, MT, 1:23.65 36. Stacey Cook, Mammoth, CA, 1:23.90 43. Megan McJames, Park City, UT, 1:24.35 44. Kaylin Richardson, Edina, MN, 1:24.37 - DNF: Chelsea Marshall (Pittsfield, VT) # # #