Vonn makes it four in a row
Åre, Sweden – Lindsey Vonn held onto her lead after the first run to win the third World Cup giant slalom of the season on Saturday. The overall World Cup leader sped down the Olympia course, which was shortened because of strong winds at the top, to clock a combined time of 2:04.70 to edge out Austria's Eva-Maria Brem (+0.07) and Italy's Federica Brignone (+0.35) at the top of the timesheets.
It was Vonn's fourth consecutive win of the season but the first in giant slalom since January 2013, just before she sustained her knee injury at the World Championships.
“I feel really good on my skis right now,” explained Vonn. “Really balanced, and I have a lot of self-confidence, especially after Lake Louise. I said last week, you know, if I finish Lake Louise strong that always means good things for the rest of the season. So, I didn’t have very much GS training, and I just skied with confidence today and was aggressive and that’s what it took, so I don’t know. I can’t say much more because I just am so happy and feel like I could just keep going.”
The 31-year-old confessed she only had one day of proper GS training last week in Lake Louise before going into today's race.
“I think you know if you’re balanced on your skis and if you have self-confidence and you’re able to attack and still be arcing, I think that combination is good and that means that you’ll probably be pretty fast", Vonn explained. "But, I don’t know, sometimes I feel like for me when I’m in a rhythm then I’m pretty fast, so I just have to keep with this rhythm for the rest of the season.”
Her team-mate Mikaela Shiffrin couldn't start after she crashed while training a couple of hours before start time. The young American was taken to hospital to undergo medical examinations.
“I didn’t see what Mikaela did this morning," Vonn said. "Ski racing needs Mikaela and Sara, and we can’t afford to lose any more athletes. So I really hope that they’re both OK, and we need them back at the start tomorrow.”
Sweden's Sara Hector was forced to stop after hurting her knee in the top section of the course while trying to recover from a mistake. She was taken down on an rescue shed and then to hospital for medical examinations.
Eva-Maria Brem, who has eight podium finishes (all in GS) and finished second in the World Cup standings in this discipline last season, confirmed her fine form after a slow start to the season in Sölden. The Austrian finished in second place last in Aspen, behind Lara Gut.
“Aspen was quite a relief for sure," Brem said. "It was just…everything was fine before Sölden until two weeks, or something like this, ago, I just didn’t get the good training conditions and the good training runs, so I had the feeling in Sölden. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn't 100% ready. And therefore, the 8th place wasn’t that bad. Yeah, there was this pressure, and I knew that 8th place isn’t bad because I had the feeling to not be ready. To be back on the podium in Aspen was great, for sure, after a difficult first run, which wasn’t perfect, to go down the second run and just feel 'Now I’m ready. I know what to do now.' And continue this skiing now in Are is great."
Federica Brignone, who won the Giant Slalom season opener in Sölden in October and finished third in Aspen, recorded a third consecutive podium finish in GS for the first time in her career. But she had to put a lot of courage into it as she hurt herself in the first run and could hardly move her right shoulder.
"I got hit by a gate in the first run in the flat section," Brignone said at the press conference. "I couldn't breathe any more. I just wanted to stop. Once at the bottom it was so painful, I couldn't move my arm and didn't know if I was going to be able to race in the second run. I had good treatment from the medical crew and the physio and was then ready to race at least for one minute," she concluded with a big smile.
A slalom race is now scheduled for tomorrow Sunday (10:30 - 13:30 CET).
For complete results click here.