Lindsey Vonn Aims for World Cup Overall Title
With ten World Cup victories under her belt for downhill, Lindsey Vonn of Vail, Colorado, was more surprised than most that her first victory for the 2008-2009 skiing season was for slalom. She claimed this victory in Finland on 15 November 2008, bringing her World Cup victories to a total of fourteen. At Aspen this past weekend (29-30 November) Vonn placed fourth in both slalom and grand slalom events, which is quite an achievement considering this gutsy skier was on crutches nursing a badly bruised left knee a few days prior to the Aspen weekend.
Ski Club Vail’s head slalom coach, Trevor Wagner, was anticipating Vonn’s first season win to be at Lake Louise, but notes that her win in Finland was totally deserved. Fellow Ski Club Vail competitor, Sarah Schleper is not surprised at Vonn’s ability to switch from downhill speed to slalom tech with ease, saying that Vonn works hard and seems to be a lot more confident and level-headed this season, attributing this primarily to her marriage to former racer Thomas Vonn before last season. Referring to the mistake Vonn made in the Finland event when she found herself way off gate halfway down, but managed to right the wrong and clinch the victory, Schleper noted that in the past such a mistake may have knocked her out of the run.
Widely considered to be the greatest American tech skier of all time, Phil Mahre, believes that Vonn’s chances of successfully defending her overall title are greatly increased by her return to her tech roots. He went on to point out that competitors need to be speed skiers in order to put them in line to win the overall World Cup, with downhill, super-G and GS being the keys to winning the title. Winning the overall title requires an entire season of consistently excellent skiing and is therefore considered to be the greatest achievement in ski racing. Having won three straight overall titles between 1981 and 1983, Phil Mahre is certainly qualified to offer an expert opinion on the matter. The only other Americans to have accomplished this are Tamara McKinney (1983) and Bode Miller (2005 and 2008).
Miller has clocked up the most wins ever for an American with a total of 31 World Cup victories, while Mahre comes in at second with 27 wins and McKinney at third with 18. Vonn is currently running at fourth with 14 World Cup victories to her name, but at age 24 she has plenty of promising skiing years ahead of her and fans will no doubt be watching with keen interest each time Lindsey Vonn participates in a World Cup event.