VAL D’ISERE, France – It’s no wonder that Lindsey Vonn loves Val d’Isere. Following up Saturday’s downhill victory, Vonn led the super G portion of Sunday’s super-combined, then put down a speedy slalom run – leading at every split – and crossing the finishing line with her second win in two days.
Vonn, who’s last super-combi victory was almost exactly a year ago on the same slope, won in a combined time of 2 minutes, 7.80 seconds, 0.46 ahead of Elisabeth Goergl, who has only ever podiumed in super-combined at Val d’Isere (in last year’s race and also in the 2009 world championships).
The story gets even better with Nicole Hosp, who, after missing all of last season for injury landed her first podium since March of 2009, taking third, 0.69 seconds back.
Vonn, who had to scurry out of Val d’Isere by helicopter to Courchevel to do a special TV spot with France’s Sandrine Aubert, said her weekend of winning was exactly what she wanted this holiday season.
“I was really happy with this weekend,” she said. “It obviously couldn’t have gone any better. It was tough conditions; there was a lot of new snow. The organizers did a great job preparing the hill. It’s the best present I could have going into Christmas.”
In spite of a couple wide turns in the super G, Vonn led Daniela Merighetti by 0.20 seconds and Hosp by just 0.30 seconds going into the slalom, which was the part of the race that had her most concerned.
“I haven’t trained very much slalom since the races in Aspen,” she said. “I felt confident but I wasn’t sure how it would go. I was nervous at the start. I said, ‘Ok, do your best.’ I was more cautious at the top, then as soon as I got into the flats, I tried to push the limits and go faster.”
Goergl, who hadn’t skied in a super G race since last year since she missed the race in Lake Louise after partially tearing ligaments in her knee in the previous day’s downhill, said she was happy with both of her runs and was pleased her knee wasn’t bothering her.
“I didn’t ski super G since a long time with my knee, so I was happy about it,” she said. “I like Val d’Isere. The course wasn’t’ really difficult. The slalom is flat and it makes it easy to attack.”
Hosp was full of smiles with her early season podium and is looking forward to perhaps doing it again in this Tuesday’s slalom in Courchevel.
“I’m really happy. It was very, very fast for me, just a few races then I’m on the podium,” she said, referring to her return back from injury this season. “Super G was very good today, the first race after two years. My slalom wasn’t that good, but I’m just happy about the podium.”
In the same way she struggled in Saturday’s downhill, Olympic super-combined champion Maria Riesch had an uncharacteristically slow super G run Sunday, finishing 16th, with 1.62 seconds to make up in the slalom. Even her slalom strayed from its usual fluid style as she was tossed wildly around a couple of gates, but still crossed the finish line in the lead, holding it until the last few racers. She ended up fifth after Austrian Anna Fenninger. Fenninger was 0.87 seconds off the pace and Riesch 1.25.
With her tremendous weekend, Vonn takes over Riesch for the lead in the overall Cup standings with 581 points to Riesch’s 578.
“At this point I’m not really looking at the overall,” Vonn said. “This weekend helps with points, but it’s a long way yet – a long season – and I’m not looking at that right now.”
For full results of Sunday’s super-combined, click here.
by Shauna Farnell