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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 23, 2010

Skiing: Vonn makes it a perfect 5-for-5 in downhill


ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writer

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy Lindsey Vonn made it a perfect five wins in five World Cup downhills this season with another decisive victory Saturday.

The American also tied Janica Kostelic with her 30th World Cup victory, good for eighth place on the career list and nearly halfway to Austrian leader Annemarie Moser-Proell's 62 wins.

"Just knowing that people have had that many wins makes it more inspiring," Vonn said. "You know that people have done it before and so it gives you hope that you can do it, too. It's good to know there's something to keep striving for."

Following her super-G victory Friday, Vonn sped down the Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute, 37.70 seconds. Maria Riesch of Germany finished second, 0.42 seconds behind, with Sweden's Anja Paerson and Swiss racer Nadja Kamer tied for third, 0.86 seconds back.

Vonn increased her lead on Riesch in the overall standings to 1,094-1,018. In downhill, Vonn has a perfect 500 points, with Riesch in second at 316 points.

Only one more stop remains on the women's calendar before the Vancouver Olympics open Feb. 12. If Vonn wins the downhill in St. Moritz, Switzerland, next week, she'll head to Canada on a six-race winning streak in the discipline seven if her victory in the final downhill of last season is included.

"Mentally and physically it's very grating, but hopefully I can just keep going the same way and continue like this," she said.

Vonn was the last top-ranked skier to start and was slightly slower than Riesch through the first two checkpoints, but the Minnesota native skied the bottom section of the twisting layout nearly half a second faster than her German rival and good friend.

"I was a little nervous in the start because Maria and Anja had such good runs and I really needed to execute," Vonn said. "So I was a little shaky the first couple of gates, but then I was able to ski really well on the bottom flats and I think that's where I won the race."

Vonn started celebrating even before she came to a stop. Her eighth overall win this season put her within one victory of her personal mark of nine titles a year ago.

For the fourth consecutive day, conditions were perfect with clear skies, abundant sunshine and cold, hard snow.

Cortina is considered the most prestigious downhill on the women's circuit and Vonn also won the race two years ago. Last year there was an upset victory by Swiss racer Dominique Gisin, who is out with an injury.

Vonn has three victories overall in Cortina, where recently retired Austrian speed specialist Renate Goetschl holds the record with 10 wins.

Another American, Julia Mancuso, matched Vonn through the first checkpoint and was on course for her first podium finish in nearly two years through the final interval before losing nearly half a second on the bottom. Still, the Californian finished eighth for her best result of the season.

The weekend racing concludes with a giant slalom Sunday.