CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Lindsey Vonn posted her seventh win of the season in a World Cup super-G Friday, skiing nearly perfectly from top to bottom and reclaiming the lead in the overall standings.
The American was coming off a run of three technical races in which she failed to gain a single point. Now, with 13 races still remaining this season, she’s in a position to break her mark of nine victories a year ago.
“Speed keeps me happy. Even after a bad week in Maribor and Flachau, the speed skiing gives me confidence,” Vonn said. “I feel like I know what I have to do now. I come out of the starting gate knowing how hard I have to ski.”
Vonn sped down the twisting Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute, 21.74 seconds. Fabienne Suter of Switzerland finished second, 0.67 seconds behind, and Anja Paerson of Sweden was third, 0.74 back.
Paerson skied before Vonn and Suter and posted the fastest run to that point. Still, the five-time Olympic medalist was shaking her head in frustration at the finish, realizing it wouldn’t be enough to beat Vonn.
“I was really hungry for it today and I get very frustrated when I don’t win,” Paerson said. “I expect a lot from myself.”
Skiing two racers after Paerson in a new white and black race suit, Vonn increased her advantage at each checkpoint and made an emphatic fist pump at the finish, jerking her poles in delight, too — one of her biggest victory celebrations of late.
Only one more stop on the women’s calendar — in St. Moritz, Switzerland — remains before the Vancouver Olympics open on Feb. 12.
“Things are going well right now in the speed events, but a lot can change in a couple weeks,” Vonn said. “Hopefully I can keep my confidence up and get one medal. Nothing is guaranteed in life — ever — and at the Olympics, too, so I have to ski hard.”
Vonn’s German rival and good friend Maria Riesch, who entered with the overall lead, made a major mistake midway down and finished 15th. Super-G is the only discipline in which Riesch has failed to finish on the podium this season.
Vonn now leads Riesch 994-938 in the overall ranks, and is also first in the super-G standings, with twice as many points as second-place Suter. Vonn has won all four downhills this season, two of the four super-G’s, plus a super-combi.
“She knows how hard to push on every course and turn,” Paerson said of Vonn. “I remember when I was dominating in giant slalom and slalom I was able to sit back a bit in the first run and place seventh or eighth and then really just step it up and go for it in second run. I could virtually control the World Cup.
“Lindsey’s in that mode now. She knows which girls are skiing fast on which course and what she needs to do to win. She’s just relaxing and skiing the way you’re supposed to ski and the rest of us are probably trying a bit too much.”
Elisabeth Goergl, the Austrian who won the season’s opening super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, in December, placed 10th, and Julia Mancuso, the American who won the super-G in Cortina two years ago, nearly lost control midway down and crossed 33rd.
Mancuso led an effort for earthquake relief in Haiti, coordinating all the top athletes to sign their bibs after the race to put them up for auction online. Details on where fans can acquire the bibs were still being worked out.
The race was run in ideal conditions, with hard snow, clear skies and abundant sunshine displaying the full splendor of the jagged mountain peaks in one of Italy’s most spectacular resorts.
Vonn will again be the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, then will attempt to get her technical skiing back on track in a giant slalom on Sunday to conclude the weekend.
“Tomorrow my goal is just to ski aggressively and not make any mistakes,” she said.