This season’s GS title race was a two-women scuffle between Worley and Rebensburg. The latter opened the season with her first World Cup victory in Soelden
before Worley went on a tear that saw her collect three consecutive GS wins and
hang on to the standings lead through the vast majority of the season.
They were planning on a Finals tangle for the globe, but warm weather intervened,
making Spindleruv Mlyn the deciding contest.
The rivalry didn’t get a chance to get too hot at what was supposed to be the penultimate GS of the season. Worley took herself out of contention early on, missing a
gate in the middle of the course. “My skis just didn’t go where I wanted them to go,”
she told fisapline.com. “Sometimes it happens. It’s really too bad it’s happening
to me right now.” She would be robbed of a chance to climb back on top as warm
temperatures and a thin base would combine to cancel the GS at World Cup Finals
in Lenzerheide a week later.
Rebensburg, the reigning Olympic GS champion, claimed the fastest times in both
runs to earn the third giant slalom victory of her career (all came this season) with a
substantial 1.26-second advantage on Italian Denise Karbon in second place. Karbon won the GS the last time the World Cup stopped here, in 2008, and this year’s
trip to Spindleruv Mlyn brought Karbon her only podium of the season.
Vonn had competed in 49 previous World Cup giant slaloms with no better than a
fourth-place finish. The 50th attempt proved to do the trick — and it couldn’t have
come at a better time as Vonn finished third to claim her 79th World Cup podium,
1. 45 seconds behind Rebensburg, and move within 38 points of Riesch, who finished 29th. It was the only U.S. podium in a women’s technical race all season.
Vonn stood eighth after the first run. Though she didn’t know it at the time, three
racers earlier, Riesch had made a big mistake in the middle of the course and
dropped all her speed. She finished at the bottom of the second-run qualifiers list.
Vonn clicked into her new “full-risk” mode and flew to the second-fastest second-run time.
“It feels really good — I’ve been waiting a long time for a good result in giant slalom and I finally put down two aggressive, clean runs,” said Vonn, who saw the five
scheduled races ahead as plenty of track to make a pass. “I knew the skiing was
there, I’ve been training well; it was just a matter of executing on race day. I think it
was great timing, to say the least.”
Having finally earned a World Cup podium in every discipline, Vonn saw the upside
of being the underdog. “After Are, things changed a bit,” she said. “I was down almost 200 points and I just changed my mental approach. I basically had nothing to
lose at that point, and that’s how I’ve been skiing.” That mental approach paid off in
“I knew the skiing was there, I’ve been training
well; it was just a matter of executing on race
day. I think it was great timing, to say the least.”
SkiRacing.com MARCH 17, 2011 | 21