Skiing: Poutiainen wins World Cup giant slalom in Italy
By ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writer
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy — Tanja Poutiainen won a World Cup giant slalom on Sunday and Lindsey Vonn retained her overall lead after finishing 19th.
Poutiainen posted a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 26.51 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course, showing that the technical specialist from Finland has fully recovered from a back problem just in time for the Vancouver Olympics.
Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany finished a distant 1.05 seconds behind for the first podium result of her career, and giant slalom world champion Kathrin Hoelzl of Germany placed third, 1.45 behind.
Vonn has a 56-point lead in the overall standings on Maria Riesch of Germany, who was eighth.
First-run leader Kathrin Zettel of Austria lost control and got caught on a gate midway down the second leg, throwing her off course. Zettel won both technical races last weekend in Maribor, Slovenia.
Second after the opening run, Poutiainen trailed Rebensburg through the first split on her second trip down, then skied a full second faster on the bottom section.
Poutiainen hadn't won since taking the season-opening GS in October at Soelden, Austria. She was then forced to skip races in December due to pain in her lower back.
It was the 10th career victory for Poutiainen, who won the silver medal in GS at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
Next weekend's speed races in St. Moritz, Switzerland, are the final women's events before the Vancouver Games open Feb. 12. This, however, was the final giant slalom before the Olympics, and only one more GS remains on the World Cup calendar, at the finals in March at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
The GS title will be decided between Hoelzl and Zettel, with Hoelzl 26 points ahead.