Vonn speeds up to tar­get first ever medal in com­bined

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - GRAHAM DUNBAR

ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND — Lind­sey Vonn took a faster line in down­hill train­ing on Thurs­day, and that bodes well as she tries to fill one of the few gaps in her medal col­lec­tion.

The Amer­i­can has never fin­ished on the podium in five com­bined races at worlds and three Olympics since 2002, though she does have two sea­son-long World Cup ti­tles from the event that in­cludes a down­hill run and a slalom run.

Vonn has not com­pleted a com­bined race at a ma­jor cham­pi­onship since her best re­sult — fourth at the 2005 worlds in Bormio, Italy. At the 2009 worlds and 2010 Olympics, she led the morn­ing down­hill but could not sus­tain her lead in the af­ter­noon slalom.

It gets no eas­ier in Fri­day’s medal race in St. Moritz, where Vonn has skied on a slalom course for the first time since a World Cup race last Fe­bru­ary.

“It was in­ter­est­ing,” Vonn said Thurs­day of her prepa­ra­tion. “I think what my legs were do­ing was pretty good con­sid­er­ing I haven’t skied slalom since the com­bined in An­dorra last year.”

She plans to at­tach the ski pole to her right glove and avoid the han­dling is­sues — an on­go­ing is­sue from break­ing her right up­per arm in Novem­ber — which led to an early exit in su­per-G on Tues­day.

“I def­i­nitely have to tape it pretty solidly for the race,” Vonn said af­ter do­ing the same for a down­hill train­ing run. “But I think it will be good enough for one race of slalom.”

Vonn was fourth-fastest in down­hill-train­ing Thurs­day, tak­ing a more ag­gres­sive ap­proach in the sec­ond for­mal prac­tice ses­sion. The fastest racer was again Ilka Stuhec of Slove­nia.

Stuhec was 0.53 sec­onds quicker than Fa­bi­enne Suter of Switzerland, and per­haps will start as the favourite on Fri­day.

Chris­tine Scheyer of Aus­tria was third fastest, 0.02 quicker than Vonn. The women com­pleted prac­tice un­der clear skies, but fog rolled back across the slope in the early af­ter­noon to end the men’s down­hill train­ing ahead of sched­ule.

Only 30 of the 82-man lineup were able to start, and Vin­cent Kriech­mayr of Aus­tria was fastest by 1.30 sec­onds. Af­ter dis­ap­point­ing in su­per-G on Wed­nes­day, Beat Feuz of Switzerland was sec­ond fastest, edg­ing Olympic cham­pion Matthias Mayer of Aus­tria.

Su­per-G gold medal­list Erik Guay of Canada was fourth fastest, and on Satur­day he will be aim­ing to be­come the first to sweep the two speed ti­tles since Bode Miller in 2005. “Any­thing is pos­si­ble,” said the 35-year-old Guay, though cau­tion­ing that “come Satur­day, I think I’m go­ing to have a cer­tain amount of pres­sure.”

GIAN EHRENZELLER, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Lind­sey Vonn speeds down the course dur­ing the women’s down­hill train­ing at the 2017 Alpine Ski­ing World Cham­pi­onships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Thurs­day.

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