Lindsey Vonn delivered one of the rare flawless performances of her season to dominate the World Cup Super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo yesterday.
The American claimed her fifth World Cup win of the winter, the 38th of her career and her fourth in the Italian resort where she earned her first podium seven years ago.
“Cortina has always been a special place for me,” Vonn told reporters. “It’s a weekend I always tackle with both excitement and apprehension. There have been seasons when I started badly and all changed after Cortina.”
Swede Anja Paerson confirmed she was back on form ahead of the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen next month, finishing 0.43 seconds behind Vonn’s winning time of one minute, 11.66 seconds.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger, the new wonder kid of Australian skiing, took third place, 0.04 seconds behind Paerson, making it a copy of the Altenmarkt downhill podium two weeks ago.
Vonn achieved a Super-G and downhill double in Cortina last season and will have realistic hopes of repeating the feat over the weekend, with a downhill today and another Super-G tomorrow.
This was her most convincing display of the season, free of the mistakes she made even in winning four times.
“With Lindsey, you cannot only rely on yourself and your performance,” Paerson said. “However good you ski, she seems to have something else up her sleeve.”
Vonn could not afford to be short of tricks as she trailed Germany’s Maria Riesch by almost 200 points in the World Cup standings at the start of the weekend.
? MEN’S ALPINE
AP and AFP, KITZBUEHEL, Austria
Overall World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic provisionally won a Super-G race yesterday for his fifth victory of the year.
The Croatian slalom specialist, who never won a speed race before, finished in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds to beat Georg Streitberger of Austria by 0.23 seconds. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was another 0.05 seconds back in third.
Last year’s winner, Didier Cuche of Switzerland, was fourth, while teammate and defending overall champion Carlo Janka was 2.04 seconds behind after skiing off course and almost missing a gate.
Meanwhile, Austrian ski racer Hans Grugger was stable and in an artificial coma after an operation on serious head injuries sustained during a fall in training for the World Cup downhill.
However, Alois Obwegeser, one of the neurosurgeons who operated on the skier, said the 29-year-old was not yet classified as out of danger.
“At the moment you can’t say; it’s a severe brain injury,” Obwegeser said. “We need more examination. What the problem always is with neurosurgical surgeries is that you have to wait until the patient is awake again.”
“He is not out of danger. The acute danger is not very big, but we don’t know what the damage has been,” Obwegeser added.
Alexandra Kofler, Obwegeser’s fellow neurosurgeon, added that Grugger would remain in a coma for the next three or four days.
“We’ll be able to make a proper prognosis only in three or four weeks’ time,” she told a press conference in Innsbruck.
“The patient is no longer in an acute critical condition and is currently stable ... The operation yesterday was successful. Medical tests performed this morning have shown an improvement,” Kofler said.
Grugger, starting fifth in Thursday’s training, hit the renowned Mausefalle (mousetrap) jump, just seconds after the start, at top speed and flew high.
Grugger, who has four World Cup victories to his name and finished 22nd in the Olympic downhill last year, landed badly and slid for 30m before coming to a halt, seemingly unconscious.
He received immediate treatment on the course before being airlifted by helicopter to Innsbruck hospital.
The Streif course used for the men’s downhill is considered the most testing of the World Cup circuit: More than 3.3km long, with racers reaching motorway-coasting speeds of 130kph while being forced into negotiating 80m jumps.
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