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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 6, 2010

Skiing: Vonn wins third straight World Cup downhill title

Associated Press

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland Lindsey Vonn won her third straight World Cup downhill title Saturday with a narrow victory in her first race since the Vancouver Olympics.

She beat Johanna Schnarf of Italy by a mere 0.01 seconds, and tied Bode Miller for the most career World Cup victories by an American at 32.

Vonn finished the Nationale downhill course in 1 minute, 35.26 seconds. Marianne Abderhalden of Switzerland was third, 0.38 seconds behind.

Vonn, whose only gold at the Olympics came in the downhill, clinched the Crystal Globe for the title by increasing her lead to over Germany's Maria Riesch with just one race left.

Vonn captured her sixth win in seven World Cup downhill races this season. She extended her lead in the overall World Cup standings to 197 points ahead of Riesch, who was sixth.

Anja Paerson of Sweden, who is third in the overall and downhill standings, broke off her run after an apparent problem with her goggles.

A dramatic change of conditions at the top of the course midway through the event allowed several slower skiers to post impressive times, including Schnarf and Abderhalden, who celebrated their first World Cup podium finishes. Marusa Ferk of Slovenia was fourth, followed by Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg, a surprise winner in the giant slalom at the Olympics.

Vonn started 16th in a field of 48 under poor visibility and an icy wind that forced organizers to cancel Friday's super-combined race for safety reasons. The International Ski Federation said it would not reschedule the event, prompting Vonn and the U.S. Ski Team to claim she had won the super-combined title.

However, only two events have been held this season and FIS rules stipulate that three races must be run, making it unclear whether the federation would officially hand Vonn the title.

Vonn already has an unbeatable lead in the super-G standings.