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March 18, 2012
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Poor finish to best WC seasons for Vonn, Hirscher

SCHLADMING, Austria - Lindsey Vonn and Marcel Hirscher have ended their best-ever World Cup seasons, though neither of the overall champions finished on a high note.

Vonn lost her right pole before finishing 24th in the last women's giant slalom and failed to set a record for the most World Cup points scored in one season. Vonn will have to let Hermann Maier's 12-year-old mark of 2,000 points stand for at least another year.

Hirscher straddled a gate in the final men's slalom and missed out on the discipline title, one day after the Austrian gave a ski-mad nation what it had been longing for since 2006 - the overall title.

"I have never lost a pole in my life and I have been skiing since I was two years old," Vonn said. "Obviously I am disappointed. I am pretty focused on goals. These 2,000 points will have to wait until next year. But I am very proud of what I did achieve this season."

The American standout had already re-established herself as ski racing's undoubted leader by reclaiming the big crystal globe from best friend Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.

It was Vonn's fourth overall crown. Also, she successfully defended her discipline titles in downhill, super-G and super-combined.

"I am extremely happy with my season, I am very satisfied," Vonn said. "But I always feel like I can do better."

During a brief visit to the World Cup finals, Bill Marolt, the President and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, said Vonn's achievements could not be rated high enough.

"She is totally committed to the sport, works 12 months a year," Marolt said. "There is no secret to her success, she just works hard. And she works hard because she loves it."

Vonn's season kicked off on a high as she became only the fifth female skier to have won in all five Alpine disciplines, immediately followed by a low as her four-year marriage to Thomas Vonn came to an end.

She went on to win more races (12) and more points (1,980) than ever before.

"For the future, I hope to win more," Vonn said. "There are few people who have achieved a lot more than me so I will try to get close to them in the coming years."

Vonn's teammate Julia Mancuso also had a consistent season and finished fourth overall, one spot higher than last year.

"I definitely like where my skiing is right now," Mancuso said.

From a winner's perspective, Vonn regaining the overall title was the only change on the women's side. Austria's Marlies Schild held on to her slalom dominance and Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg proved again she is the leading GS racer.

It was all change on the men's side, though, starting with Hirscher.

"It's completely unreal, a whole new feeling," said the Austrian, who beat Switzerland's Beat Feuz in a gripping finish to the season. "A lot could happen and it felt like playing poker. Luckily, I had full house."

Hirscher claimed his first overall title ahead of Croatia's Ivica Kostelic, who also lost his slalom title to Andre Myhrer of Sweden.

Kostelic's battle for the championship was spoiled by knee surgery, which forced him to sit out nine races in February. A minor consolation for Kostelic was once again topping the super-combined standings.

Swiss standout Didier Cuche had to hand over both of the crystal globes he won last year for downhill and super-G to Austria's Klaus Kroell and Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, respectively.

It hardly put a stain on the lengthy career of Cuche, who, like Anja Paerson on the women's side, was the most prominent men's skier to end his career.

Ted Ligety won three giant slaloms and earned more points in the discipline than ever before, but still lost his GS title to Hirscher.

"For me it was a good year," the American said. "It's just that someone else was better."

Ligety's American teammate Bode Miller skipped the World Cup finals to recover from knee surgery. The veteran scored a downhill victory in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in December and had three more podium finishes.

Asked about Miller's future, Marolt said, "We don't know that. As long as Bode enjoys what he's doing and he's having success, he will continue ... He has to do rehab. That could be good motivation for next year. Bode is unique in many ways."

With or without Miller, the next World Cup season will start at Soelden, Austria, in October.


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The Summit Daily Updated Mar 18, 2012 01:43PM Published Mar 18, 2012 01:42PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.