Vonn wins DH in St. Moritz; posts 8th win in '12

Courtesy of

By Shauna Farnell

St. Moritz, Switzerland (Sports Network) - Of her many accomplishments and years of success, after winning her eighth race of 2011-12 in the St. Mortiz downhill on Saturday, Lindsey Vonn named this season her best ever.

"It's funny. I already have eight wins this year and it's still January. Last year I had eight wins for the entire season. It's a big change for me," Vonn said. "I'm getting top five results in GS this year, top 10s in slalom, this season is going incredibly well so far. I just hope I can keep it going."

The American is nearing the big 5-0 in terms of World Cup victories, notching her 49th Saturday, not just winning but once again leaving everyone else far behind.

In light snow under a grayish sky, she finished the full-length St. Moritz course in 1 minute, 43.65 seconds. Her nearest competitor, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, was 1.42 seconds back and Lichtenstein's top racer, Tina Weirather, landed the second World Cup podium of her career, taking third, 1.47 seconds back.

"I thought I skied well yesterday. Today I stepped it up a little bit more," Vonn said, referring to Friday's victory in the St. Moritz super-combined. When I crossed the finish line, I didn't know I would be that far ahead."

Vonn says she has reached a new point in finding a peace of mind in her sport - and that is possibly what leads - inadvertently - to such a sizeable gap in her victories.

"I'm really comfortable right now. I just feel relaxed. I've been enjoying what I do so much this season," she said. "I'm someone who stresses out - I worry all the time about everything. This year, I'm just relaxed. I'm not thinking about winning my a large margin, just about doing my best, but it seems to be working. There is still definitely a lot of stress in my life, for sure. Off the slopes it's been a rollercoaster ride. I just wake up and I'm happy I get to do what I love."

Hoefl-Riesch was happy to be back on the podium Saturday, especially after Friday's misstep in the slalom portion of the super-combined, in which she slipped and had to hike to catch a gate, dropping her down the results list when she would have otherwise been in podium contention.

"It's a great result for me. I'm really happy, especially after yesterday," Hoefl-Riesch said. "It was a little more bumpy today, I'm glad the visibility was OK. It was still a really nice track."

As for Vonn's dominance, Hoefl-Riesch can only shake her head in admiration.

"She skied perfect today again," Hoefl-Riesch said. "I try to keep up with her, but at the moment it's really tough because she's so good. Maybe there will come a day when I can beat her again."

Weirather had the enjoyable experience of standing in the leaders box for a large portion of the race. When Vonn crossed the finish line nearly a second and a half faster, the 22-year-old who skis with the Swiss Team simulated taking her hat off and bowed.

"It's strange. You know she's going to be faster - and you're just waiting for how much," Weirather said of Vonn. "I was just happy with my run. It's very hard to say how well the other girls [would do]. I knew when I go in the lead, it's pretty good, because Leanne Smith is in the finish and Fraenzi [Aufdenblatten], so I knew, it's really good, but top seven were still up there, so I had to wait for a long time."

Weirather has been amazingly consistent in downhill this season, finishing top 10 in every race, including her first career Cup podium in Lake Louise.

The St. Moritz downhill proved successful for several other racers, including Tina Maze, who matched her best result in the discipline so far this season with fourth, 1.65 off Vonn's winning time. Julia Mancuso tied for fifth place with France's Marie Marchand-Arvier, who had struggled in her races following her second place finish at the beginning of the season in the Lake Louise downhill. They finished 1.86 seconds back. Leanne Smith, who led the race until Weirather stepped in, has been burning up the St. Moritz downhill track the last few days and ended up notching a career best seventh place on Saturday, 1.89 seconds back. In eighth, ninth and 10th place, Elisabeth Goergl, Marion Rolland and Daniela Merighetti were the only other competitors to finish within 2 seconds of Vonn.

While there were fortunately no big crashes on Saturday, a couple of strong racers made costly mistakes, including Anja Paerson and Stacey Cook, both of whom initiated their turns too early in the middle of the course and missed a gate.

Vonn now leads the World Cup overall with an astonishing 1170 points. Maze trails with 818 and now Hoefl-Riesch is third in the standings with 596. Vonn leads the downhill standings with 430 points and Weirather is next with 240 as Goergl is in third so far with 235.

World Cup racing in St. Moritz wraps up on Sunday with another super-combined (super G and slalom).

OFFICIAL RESULTS - St. Moritz, Switzerland

Women's Downhill

1. Lindsey Vonn, USA, 1:43.65; 2. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, GER, 1:45.07; 3. Tina Weirather, LIE, 1:45.12; 4. Tina Maze, SLO, 1:45.30; 5. Julia Mancuso, USA, 1:45.51; 5. Marie Marchand-Arvier, FRA, 1:45.51; 7. Leanne Smith, USA, 1:45.54; 8. Elisabeth Goergl, AUT, 1:45.55; 9. Marion Rolland, FRA, 1:45.60; 10. Daniela Merighetti, ITA, 1:45.61.

Other North Americans

16. Laurenne Ross, USA, 1:46.28; 25. Alice McKennis, USA, 1:46.72; 38. Larisa Yurkiw, CAN, 1:47.95;45. Sarah Freeman, CAN, 1:49.58; 47. Kelly Vanderbeek, CAN, 1:49.93.

Did not finish 1st run

Stacey Cook, USA; Julia Ford, USA

01/28 14:08:09 ET