Vonn fuming over 'ruined' course
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy — Lindsey Vonn was encouraged simply by making it to the finish yesterday in her weakest discipline, giant slalom.
The 19th-place result wasn't exactly what she was aiming for after consecutive victories in super-G and downhill the past two days, however, and Vonn was again critical of the way officials injected the course with water to create a more icy surface.
"Here in Cortina it's the best snow on earth — it doesn't get any better than this. They had a perfect track and in my opinion they ruined it," Vonn said. "There's no need whatsoever for injection on this hill."
The race winner, Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, also questioned the practice, which is meant to make the course hold up throughout the race. Often in the technical races of slalom and giant slalom, courses get worn down with ruts as racer after racer come down and later starters have little chance of being competitive.
The problem this time was that water injection was used only on the bottom section of the course, with the snow untouched on the top.
"The conditions were changing from top to bottom. They watered the 10 gates at the bottom," Poutiainen said. "I don't know if it's a good idea to have two different types of conditions on the course. Someone said it would have been very soft on the bottom but I don't know."
Women's World Cup race director Atle Skaardal was not immediately available for comment.
Poutiainen won by a large margin, showing the technical specialist has fully recovered from a back problem just in time for the Vancouver Olympics.
Poutiainen posted a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 26.51 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course. 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.
"I'm back finally," Poutiainen said. "My training over the last two weeks has been really good."
Giant slalom is the only discipline in which Vonn has never finished on the podium. She failed to score a point in her previous four GS races, failing to finish the last three.
The Minnesota native stood 22nd after the opening run and posted the seventh-fastest second run.
"Today was definitely a little frustrating. It definitely wasn't the result I was hoping for, but I finished and I can take confidence from that," Vonn said. "It's been too many races in a row where I've gone out, so at least I know I can get to the finish twice."
Vonn retained a 56-point lead in the overall standings ahead of her German rival and best friend Maria Riesch, who finished eighth.
Felix Neureuther of Germany won a men's World Cup slalom race yesterday for his first career victory.
Neureuther finished in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 37.35 seconds on the icy Ganslern course in Kitzbuehel, Austria. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia placed seventh to win the classic combined title after Saturday's downhill.
Last year's slalom winner, Julien Lizeroux of France, was 0.39 seconds behind Neureuther in second. Giuliano Razzoli in Italy was third, 0.99 behind.