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It took Vail’s Lindsey Vonn just one warm-up World Cup race last weekend to round into form after nearly a year off recovering from multiple injuries. The all-time winningest female ski racer on Saturday added to her own record with her 77th career World Cup win in a downhill in Garmisch.
Vonn is now just nine wins away from tying the all-time victory mark (male or female) of 86 career World Cup wins held by Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark, and the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail product also back in form just in time for the World Alpine Ski Championships Feb. 6-19 in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
At those Worlds, Vonn has a chance to build on her American women’s record of six World Championship medals and perhaps tie or surpass the American men’s record of seven medals held by Park City’s Ted Ligety, who is out for the season for back surgery.
Vonn also helped out Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who didn’t race Saturday but is vying for the overall World Cup title that Vonn has won four times. By finishing first on Saturday ahead of second-place Swiss star and defending overall World Cup champion Lara Gut, Vonn denied Gut 20 points in the current chase.
Shiffrin, a tech specialist in slalom and giant slalom, still leads by 295 points after speed-event (downhill, super-G) standout Gut settled for 80 points for second and Vonn grabbed the full 100 points for the win.
On the men’s circuit, Steve Nyman of Sundance, Utah, was the top American in 10th on the famed Hahnenkamm downhill course at Kitzbuehel, Austria on Saturday — a race won by Italy’s Dominik Paris.
Here’s the U.S. Ski Team press release on Vonn’s victory:
Vonn grabs 77th World Cup win
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Jan. 21, 2017) – Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) is back on top!
In only her second race since returning from a pair of injuries that sidelined her for almost a year, Vonn won Saturday’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup downhill on the Kandahar course for the third time in her career. Saturday’s win marked her 77th career World Cup victory, moving her closer to the all-time mark of 86 wins set by the legendary Swede Ingemar Stenmark.
“I’m so happy that it only took me two races to get back on the top step,” Vonn said. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure after Zauchensee how long it would take me. I proved to myself today that all the work that I put in is really coming through.”
Starting bib 17, Vonn posted the fastest times at four of the five intermediate splits ahead of second-place finisher Lara Gut of Switzerland and third-place finisher Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, both of whom looked on with surprising disbelief in the finish at what Vonn had just accomplished.
“I’ve worked really hard to come back and I feel like sometimes I come back so quickly that everyone forgets how much time and energy, blood, sweat and tears it takes to come back without any training and just jump in there,” said Vonn, who was 13th in her first race back last weekend in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria.
Vonn’s victory led four Americans into the top 20, including Breezy Johnson (Victor, ID) in 11th; Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) and Stacey Cook (Mammoth Lakes, CA) tied for 18th. Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR), who grabbed her first career World Cup podium in third last weekend in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, finished 26th. Leanne Smith (North Conway, NH) was 37th.
Johnson was well on her way to a career-best World Cup result until the second-to-last racer to start, Ricarda Haaser of Austria, wearing bib 53 came down and posted her best World Cup downhill finish in 10th.
With her second-place finish, Gut took 80 points out of Mikaela Shiffrin’s (Eagle-Vail, CO) overall World Cup lead. Shiffrin leads the overall standings with 1,008 points. Gut is second with 773 points. Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec finished seventh to maintain her overall World Cup downhill lead over Gut in second and Italy’s Sofia Goggia in third.
Up next, the women race super G Sunday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Vonn will be gunning for World Cup victory No. 78. Watch it live on NBCSports.com at 5:45 a.m. EST.
It feels amazing. I just got to the bottom and I cried. I’ve worked really hard to come back and I feel like sometimes I come back so quickly that everyone forgets how much time and energy, blood, sweat and tears it takes to come back without any training and just jump in there. I just had to trust myself, my team and my technician – we all did our best and today was just amazing.
I’m so happy that it only took me two races to get back on the top step. Honestly, I wasn’t sure after Zauchensee how long it would take me. I proved to myself today that all the work that I put in is really coming through.
Here’s the U.S. Ski Team press release on Nyman’s 10th-place finish in Kitzbuehel:
Top 10 for Nyman on Hahnenkamm
KITZBUEHEL, Austria (Jan. 21, 2017) – On the world’s toughest downhill course, one small mistake is the difference between finishing on the podium and 10th place. Just ask Steve Nyman (Sundance, UT), who finished 10th in Saturday’s Hahnenkamm Audi FIS Ski World Cup downhill where the top 10 were separated by just 0.84 seconds.
Italy’s Dominik Paris took the victory over two surprise Frenchmen, Valentin Giraud Moine in second and Johan Clarey in third. Nyman, who chose bib 1, soaked in the start festivities and was well on his way to a great run until the Hausberg section on the world’s most famous downhill course.
“It was really cool starting No. 1,” Nyman said. “They have the big gong going up there, the countdown, and everybody is psyched to see the first guy kick out of the gate. I definitely had some nerves, but I executed really well until the Hausberg. I landed off that round, and that’s a long side-hill traverse, and not carrying the speed across that cost me a lot of time.”
Nyman led four Americans into the top 30 Saturday, including Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, NY), who started bib 50 and posted a career-best 23rd place finish – scoring his first World Cup downhill points – on his first race down the Hahnenkamm.
“I’m happy to walk away with 23rd today,” Biesemeyer said. “It was my first time down Kitzbuehel. To get my first downhill points with a career-best downhill result here in Kitzbuehel is a day to remember.”
Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) was 19th and Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) was 29th. Jared Goldberg (Holladay, UT) finished 40th and Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA) finished in a three-way tie for 41st.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who did not race Saturday, continues to lead the overall World Cup standings with 980 points. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen is second with 692 points and France’s Alexis Pinturault is third with 655 points. All three will be in action in Sunday’s slalom. With Saturday’s victory, Paris moved atop the World Cup downhill standings by two points over the injured Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.
Up next, the men race slalom Sunday in Kitzbuehel. Watch it live on NBCSports.com at 4:15 a.m. EST first run and 7:15 a.m. second run.
It was really cool starting No. 1. They have the big gong going up there, the countdown, and everybody is psyched to see the first guy kick out of the gate. I definitely had some nerves, but I executed really well until the Hausberg. I landed off that round, and that’s a long side-hill traverse and not carrying the speed across that cost me a lot of time. But I was happy with the execution.
[On the course]
This year the piste is so icy and brutal. It was fun!
[On his choice to run bib 1]
For one, get it over with. Two, I think some of the chatter, some chunking in the snow could effect the cleanliness of my skiing. The only other doubt I had was the road, the track would not be as good.
I had high expectations. I really would love to be on the podium here; I’d love to win here. Having the first training run and leading the first training run obviously put some expectations on me. My understanding that I have gained of this hill the past three years has been greater and greater, and I feel like my ability to really push here is much better to where I can compete. Hopefully I can put a full run together here next year.
From the time I wake up to the time I’m actually in the start gate where I have to focus in and get it done, there are so many feelings – you’re scared; you’re hyped-up; you’re nervous; you can’t eat. But the moment I was in the gate I said to myself, ‘Stay to the front of the boot, look for the falline and fight to hold position the whole way down. I know it’s going to be rough and it’s not going to feel good. But let’s just see what happens.’
I’m happy to walk away with 23rd today. It was my first time down Kitzbuehel and to get my first downhill points with a career-best downhill result here in Kitzbuehel is a day to remember.