Lindsey Vonn upstaged Tina Maze in front of her home fans to win a women’s Alpine ski World Cup giant slalom race on Saturday, though the Slovenian had the compensation of securing the season’s title in the discipline.
American Vonn, back to her best, beat the overall World Cup runaway leader by 0.08 seconds with a combined time of 2 minutes, 22.2 seconds to snatch only the third giant slalom win of her career.
It was Vonn’s 59th World Cup victory and a boost to her confidence ahead of the world championships in Schladming next month, when Maze will defend her crown in the discipline.
Maze’s second place was enough for her to secure the giant slalom World Cup.
“It’s my first crystal cup, so I’m really happy,” said Maze, who had looked miserable when she crossed the finish line.
“I really wanted to thank the spectators with a big victory,” added Maze who had set the fastest first-leg time. “I’m sure they must be happy with my second place. I fought as hard as I could.”
Maze still had hopes of winning yesterday’s slalom and has increased her overall World Cup lead, leaving Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch 748 points adrift. Austria’s Anna Feninger continued her fine recent form to finish third, 0.57 off the pace.
Vonn, who took three weeks off over New Year to deal with health and personal problems, was delighted with her day’s work.
“I had not skied a giant slalom for a month,” the four-time World Cup winner said. “I was hoping for a good result, but not to win, but this course perfectly suits my style.”
“The timing for the world championships could not be more perfect. This is a highlight after a tough moment. It also convinced me I could do well in giant slalom and I will race in four events at the worlds,” she added.
Reuters, KITZBUEHEL, Austria
Dominik Paris became only the second Italian to win the most prestigious downhill on the World Cup circuit, on Kitzbuehel’s Hahnenkamm mountain, on Saturday.
Joint winner of the Bormio classic earlier this season, the 23-year-old Paris outshone the favorites in 1 minute, 57.56 seconds to emulate compatriot Kristian Ghedina, crowned in 1998.
The victory underlined the strength of the Italian speed team, who have bagged four of the six downhills held this season, with Christof Innerhofer winning in Beaver Creek and in Wengen a week ago.
Innerhofer was the focus of attention for the 50,000 spectators lining the Streif on Saturday, as he started in 46th position after being sanctioned for ignoring an order to slow down in practice.
As visibility worsened, the super-G world champion finished 21st, 1.92 off the pace.
Erik Guay was second, 0.13 seconds adrift, the best result for a Canadian on the Streif piste in 30 years.
Hannes Reichelt salvaged Austrian pride by finishing third, 0.36 behind the winner.
Aksel Lund Svindal, the fastest in practice and winner of Friday’s super-G, looked a clear favorite at the start, but could manage only 10th place, 1.16 back.
Perhaps unsettled by the crash of Frenchman Johan Clarey, who started ahead of him, the Norwegian surrendered the downhill World Cup lead to Paris by six points, while losing vital ground in the race for the overall title to Austria’s Marcel Hirscher.
Hirscher was to be the favorite at home in yesterday’s slalom.