Vonn, Svindal claim titles after fog halts final downhill races

Reuters, LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland

Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - Page 19

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal and injured Lindsey Vonn of the US won the men’s and women’s downhill World Cup titles on Wednesday after the final races of the season were canceled due to fog.

The bad weather ended women’s overall champion Tina Maze’s hopes of bagging all five crystal globes as Vonn, who tore knee ligaments in a crash at the world championships last month, clinched her sixth downhill title with 340 points to the Slovenian’s 339.

In 2011, the American, a four-time overall World Cup champion, lost the big globe by three points after two races were canceled at the finals, also in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

It was a 17th World Cup title for Vonn, beating Austrian Anne-Marie Moser Proell’s total of 16. Only Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark has more with 19 in the men’s ranks.

Slovenian Maze secured the overall title last month and could still take the three other disciplines. Her current overall total of 2,254 points is a World Cup record after she bettered Hermann Maier’s mark of 2,000.

World champion Svindal, who retained his 58-point lead in the standings over last year’s winner Klaus Kroell of Austria, was left with mixed feelings about the cancellation of the men’s downhill.

While it gave him his first globe in the sport’s blue riband event, Svindal’s chances of taking the overall World Cup crown are in jeopardy.

With only three races left in the season, including the slalom in which he does not take part, the Norwegian trails Austria’s Marcel Hirscher by 149 points, a gap last year’s overall champion seems almost certain to retain in the giant slalom and slalom.

“I have mixed feelings about today,” Svindal told reporters. “I’m of course happy to have clinched my first downhill globe, but also sorry to have lost a great chance to score big points in the overall title.”

The men’s downhill was put off several times in the hope of better visibility, meaning the women’s race, due to take place later on the same piste, was automatically postponed, but fog was still hanging over the bottom section of the course five hours after the scheduled start time, forcing the organizers to call it a day.

A men’s and a women’s Super-G were scheduled on the same course yesterday.