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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 16, 2010

Skiing: Vonn crashes, Zettel wins World Cup giant slalom


Associated Press

MARIBOR, Slovenia Lindsey Vonn crashed three gates from the finish but was not hurt, while Kathrin Zettel of Austria won the World Cup giant slalom.

Vonn, a favorite in the upcoming Vancouver Olympics, was second after the opening run. But the American lost time early in her second run, forcing her to attack in the lower section. She was thrown off course by a bump shortly before the finish line.

"I have been fighting really hard. I had a mistake early on," Vonn said. "The light wasn't too good anymore. I gave everything, but it didn't work out in the end. It's a shame as it was that close to the finish."

Vonn, who has never won a giant slalom, kept her lead in the overall standings. Last weekend, she won speed races over three straight days, a first for an American.

Zettel finished in a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 36.22 seconds for her first victory of the season and seventh overall all in giant slalom.

Maria Riesch of Germany was 0.23 behind for her first career GS podium finish. Anja Paerson of Sweden was third. Riesch is second in the overall standings, trailing Vonn by 32 points.

Zettel led Riesch by 0.68 seconds going into the final run.

"Finally, I've managed to keep my lead from the opening run," said Zettel, who had finished on the podium seven times entering the season without winning.

Julia Mancuso had the best American finish in 25th place.

Vonn, whose best giant slalom result was fourth in 2008 in Aspen, Colo., was satisfied with her opening run.

"I have been training well in the last couple of days," Vonn said. "I think I have done well in GS before, but I just didn't finish. Today was just a lot of fun and I did a good job."

Riesch's best finish in a GS was fourth in 2004.

"My first podium in giant slalom, I am very happy that I've managed to finally do it," she said.

However, Riesch doesn't think she's improved her chances to win the overall championship against her friend Vonn.

"It's exciting to be so close, but so many speed races are coming up," Riesch said. "I know that Lindsey will put this race out of her mind. It was really bad for her because she was on her way to a great GS result as well."

Paerson was not flawless in her second run, but was satisfied with her third place. She injured her right knee when she crashed in Tuesday's night slalom in Flachau, Austria.

"I straddled a gate and all my weight landed on my right knee. For two days I had a lot of pain," Paerson said. "But now it feels OK, I felt strong today."

A World Cup slalom is scheduled for Sunday.