Vonn faces cold and tough course for World Cup record
The Associated Press
BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria — Luggage lost during travel, weakened by a cold, and competing on a course that has never really suited her.
The signs for Lindsey Vonn’s next attempt to match the all-time record of 62 women’s World Cup wins at this weekend’s races in Austria have not been overly promising.
The American missed her first chance to reach Annemarie Moser-Proell’s mark when she crashed in a super-G in Val d’Isere, France, last month. A downhill on Saturday and a super-G the following day will offer two more opportunities, but Vonn’s main priorities are elsewhere.
“At the moment I have to be healthy again and hopefully I am 100 percent at the race, that’s my goal,” Vonn said Thursday. “The record will hopefully come when I am skiing well but not before.”
After the race in France, Vonn skipped the technical events in Kuehtai, Austria, and Zagreb, Croatia, and went back to the United States, where the U.S. speed team trained in Beaver Creek ahead of next month’s world championships.
Most of her teammates got ill, and ultimately Vonn did, too.
“I was the last one,” she said. “I have a sore throat and I can’t hear my ears.”
To make things worse, two of her bags got lost while travelling back to Austria, though one of them was delivered late Wednesday.
“I just didn’t have any ski clothes, like my helmet, my back protector, my suit,” Vonn said. “I was pretty worried as (the airline) had no idea where it was, it was not in their system.”
Vonn was far from her best at Thursday’s first downhill training. Hours before the start, she tweeted, “still sick and feel like a walking zombie but at least I’m skiing.”
Like several others, Vonn missed a gate, which would have led to disqualification in the race. She never pushed and was standing up out of her tuck for the final part of her run before finishing 5.11 seconds off Tina Weirather’s leading time.
“I am definitely pretty sick but at least my knee feels good and that’s the most important thing,” said Vonn, who competed in five races, winning two of them, since coming back from the surgery that kept her away from the Sochi Olympics.
“I have no energy,” she added. “Obviously it wasn’t good skiing. At least I know what the course feels like now.”
Both times before when the women’s World Cup circuit visited Bad Kleinkirchheim, Vonn was struggling on the Franz Klammer course.
In 2006, she was leading the downhill standings after two wins but placed ninth and 18th in two races, and only 43rd in a super-G.
Six years later, stomach troubles slowed the American, who came fourth in the downhill and 18th in the super-G.
“This course is not my favorite,” Vonn said. “It is flat light, and a lot of terrain you can’t see. It’s kind of like chicanes, you zigzag the whole way down. It’s hard to get a good feeling on the course.”
Vonn decided against skipping the first training as she “wanted to get a feeling for the line, how the terrain was. I’ve never really figured this course out so I felt like I needed to just try today to get a handle on things.”
Trying to get the all-time World Cup record was a main motivator for Vonn to come back after her latest injury setback last year.
“Such a record will stay forever, even after I retire,” Vonn said. “But I have to figure out my health situation first and get healthy and hopefully have the energy I need to put down a good performance on the weekend.”
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