tive downhill wins there with two of her own and opened
the door to her first overall title after two years as Vonn’s
Vonn, who has said she took very little time off training
this summer, has demonstrated an amazing kickoff to her
2012 campaign. After bagging her career first World Cup
GS victory at the season opener in Soelden, Austria, she
has taken wins in all but one start. “My goal was to start
the season off strong,” she said. “Last year I didn’t really
find my rhythm until the end of February or beginning of
March, which is way too late.”
With Bode Miller and Ted Ligety grabbing podiums in
Beaver Creek (see page 14), the U.S. had a great week-
end. Julia Mancuso bounced back from a couple disap-
pointing downhill runs to repeat her performance of a
year ago with another third-place result in the super G.
She continued a solid recent streak that includes five po-
diums in her latest 12 World Cup starts.
“I had a lot of room to improve in my downhill results,
so there was nothing to lose,” said Mancuso, who said
that she had opted for downhill skis that ended up being
too stiff. “I just wasn’t feeling very comfortable here. It’s
sometimes hard to get into the rhythm getting back into
the downhill races; and trying new equipment and deal-
ing with bad luck conditions, I just made some bad deci-
sions and learned the hard way.”
Back in a World Cup start gate for the first time since
breaking her leg last January, American Alice McKennis
showed off the hard work she logged at physical therapy
all summer with a career-high eighth-place result. “It’s
been such a long road for me, and to be fast in my first
race back is just an incredible feeling,” said McKennis. “I
felt so much more comfortable today than I have in any
of the training runs.”
The American women took strides toward defending
their title as top speed national team with additional early
season scoring results from Stacey Cook, Chelsea Mar-
shall and Leanne Smith.
Laurenne Ross was also primed for another strong
showing in Lake Louise but suffered a scary fall in the
second downhill, catching an edge and tumbling into the
safety netting near the bottom of the course. After be-
ing airlifted off the mountain by helicopter, Ross’s only
injuries were several cuts to her face. “I have about 40
stitches,” Ross told her Facebook following a few days
later. “I also kind of look like a scary Frankenstein rac-
coon...but all injuries are merely flesh wounds, so I’ll re-
cover relatively quickly and will be back in the mountains
in no time.”
Though Vonn’s sweep overshadowed others’ accom-
plishments, there were some sparks of light thrown by
potential challengers to her speed reign.
Austrian downhill and super G world champion Elisa-
beth Goergl stepped up to her third podium of the young
season with a third-place result in the second downhill.
And Tina Weirather, daughter of Austrian hero Harti Wei-
rather and Liechtenstein’s Hanni Wenzel, had her first
career World Cup podium in second place in the first
downhill, all the way from the 40th starting position.
The Canadians’ only bright spot of the home visit came
from tech specialist Marie-Michele Gagnon, who finished
26th in the super G.
By the end of the weekend, Vonn had jumped from sec-
ond in the overall standings to lead by 136 points ahead
of German Viktoria Rebensburg.
“I was focused and it took my mind off everything else,”
said Vonn at a press conference in Beaver Creek ahead
of the super G rescheduled there. “I think this whole sea-
son is going to be a great chance for me to look at myself
from a different perspective and really learn more about
myself. Skiing is my happy place.”
Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather made a run all the way from the 40th
start to finish second in the first Lake Louise downhill.
“I think this whole season is going to be a great chance to look at
myself from a different perspective,” said Vonn after the races.