|LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (Dec. 1) - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), building her lead from top to bottom, won a World Cup downhill Saturday at Lake Louise for the fourth straight season. She won by nearly eight-tenths of a second in the zero-degree cold and said, "I trusted myself, knowing the line and not thinking twice about it."Vonn, skiing with tape to protect her face in the 25-degree weather, didn't have the fastest speed - she was 123 kilometers an hour while Anja Paerson hit 125kph - but Vonn was almost flawless. She trailed DH nemesis Renate Goetschl of Austria at the first timing checkpoint, but tore down the 2.8K course after that momentary blip in the first downhill of the season.|
"I know that hill like the back of my hand and I just trusted myself," she said.
photo Doug Haney US SKI TEAM
Impressive results at Lake Louise
Her scorecard at Lake Louise:
Dec. 3, 2004 - She wins her first World Cup race, a downhill (and is third in a super G)
Dec. 3, 2005 - A year to the day, she won the second of two DHs at Lake Louise
Dec. 2, 2006 - She again wins the second of two downhill, shredding the field by 1.33 seconds (and is second in the first DH, second in a super G)
Dec. 1, 2007 - DH victory No. 4 in the Canadian Rockies.
"I wish we could have more races up here, or at least the two downhills we've had the last few years. Or, yeah, three...or four," she laughed.
Vonn's time Saturday of 1:48.69 bested DH nemesis Renate Goetschl of Austria, who finished in 1:49.47. Following Vonn from the U.S. Ski Team were Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) in 13th place and reigning NorAm downhill champion Leanne Smith (Conway, NH). Making her World Cup debut, Smith started 46th and steamed into 23rd place with a clocking of 1:51.57. Chelsea Marshall (Pittsfield, VT), who made her World Cup debut in the Lake Louise DH a year ago, was 34th, missing the top 30 and her first World Cup points by 0.13 seconds.
"I'm super psyched for Leanne," Vonn said. "She's got so much spunk and it's great to have her on the Team. She's skiing so well, and so is Chelsea Marshall." She pointed to recent retirements (Olympians Kirsten Clark and Jonna Mendes, among others) and was excited to see new faces moving up in the speed group.
She had fast protective tape, too
The extreme cold (-17 C., 0 F.) had the women walking a delicate line about too much clothing for warmth but not wanting to restrict their movement. Some raced in full face masks to battle what became sub-zero freezing as they came down the hill.
Vonn said she considered a full face mask but vetoed the thought because it could make breathing tough. She taped parts of her face "but I still got frostbite on part of my neck," she said.
Having won two silver medals at the 2007 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships to shed any questions about her abilities in big events, her season ended early. She injured her right knee in slalom training at Worlds and, although she was challenging for the overall title, elected to skip the rest of the season to rest the knee.
After surgery and strenuous rehab program in the preseason, she said, "I'm back stronger than ever. I'm really confident"...and Saturday's performance only boosts that confidence.
Coach: "Now we know!"
DH Coach Alex Hoedlmoser, just shook his head and smiled. "Lindsey owns this hill," he said. "In the first race, you always wonder how you are...and now we know. Now we know!"
He also pointed to Smith's performance and Marshall's top-30 near-miss. "Leanne was awesome today, and she's definitely one of the girls we're looking for to come along. She has good natural speed, and this was excellent, but it's also one race. She's shown what she can do...and so did Chelsea. She just has to pick up a little bit of time."
The women complete their annual visit to Lake Louise Sunday with a super G, then head to the Audi Aspen Winternational in Colorado.
2008 AUDI ALPINE WORLD CUP
Lake Louise, ALB - Dec. 1, 2007
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:48.69
2. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 1:49.47
3. Britt Janyk, Canada, 1:49.96
4. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1:50.05
5. Ingrid Jacquemod, France, 1:50.09
13. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, CA, 1:50.95
23. Leanne Smith, Conway, NH, 1:51.57
34. Chelsea Marshall, Pittsfield, VT, 1:52.41
42. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, WA, 1:52.69
44. Keely Kelleher, Big Sky, MT, 1:52.93
49. Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 1:53.26
52. Kaylin Richardson, Edina, MN, 1:53.86