Catching up with Lindsey Vonn
Dec. 2: Overall World Cup champion skiier Lindsey Vonn discusses her accomplishments, her crash in Torino and her pet cows.
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy - Lindsey Vonn is having a hard time accepting that World Cup organizers have permanently wiped off a downhill from this season's schedule.
Vonn became the first American woman to win the overall World Cup title in 25 years last season, largely based on her success in downhill. She leads the overall standings again this season even though only two races have been run in her best discipline.
A blizzard dumped 140 centimeters (more than 4 feet) of fresh snow on the course in Cortina earlier this week and heavy fog followed, forcing the cancellation of a downhill that had been moved from Lake Louise, Alberta.
"It's a huge disappointment to me. It's tough when we start the season with less downhills than slaloms to begin with," Vonn said after leading downhill training Friday. "Now with the weather, obviously it's no one's fault, but still we could make it up (next month) in Tarvisio. There's always places that we could make it up.
"I don't really know the politics behind it, or the sponsorships, but I know that I would really love to race another downhill. I wish it was organized a little better."
The regularly scheduled Cortina downhill is still on for Saturday, although more bad weather is forecast.
"If tomorrow gets canceled, it's going to be really, really tough," Vonn said. "It makes it really tough on me to try to defend the overall title when my discipline has the fewest amount of races compared to the other disciplines."
Eight downhills and nine slaloms were scheduled at the beginning of this season.
Vonn leads the overall standings with 776 points, Maria Riesch of Germany is second with 765 and Anja Paerson of Sweden is next with 702.
Vonn won six races last season, five of them downhills.
This season she has three wins, each in different disciplines — slalom, downhill and super-combined.
Paerson won a downhill in Zauchensee, Austria, last weekend, and was also upset over the schedule change.
"I was really hoping to get four 100-point races in," Paerson said. "For the overall it was a really important week for me. I had really good form coming in. But that's the way it is, and hopefully I can bring a positive out of it coming into the weekend."
After Saturday's downhill, a giant slalom is scheduled for Sunday, and a super-G has been moved to Monday.
Paerson had the provisional best time in downhill training, but was disqualified for missing a gate.
The training session also marked U.S. Ski Team veteran Caroline Lalive's first run in Cortina since landing a jump awkwardly and injuring her knee three years ago. The injury cost Lalive a spot in the 2006 Turin Olympics a few weeks later.
Lalive was set to return when she hit more bad luck in Oct. 2007, suffering a season-ending knee injury while training in Pitztal, Austria. The Steamboat Springs, Colorado, resident has had surgery 15 times in her career.
"I'm back. It's been harder than I anticipated for sure, but it's good to be skiing," Lalive said, adding that she was a little nervous returning to the site of her injury. "I'm happy. Skiing itself is just so cool. I can't complain."
While it doesn't look like Lalive will qualify for next month's World Championships, she has her sights set on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"Ideally, I was hoping to step it up already, but it's just a process," she said. "The hardest part is just to be patient. I'm just taking it a day at a time."
The 29-year-old Lalive was met by new, younger teammates in her return.
"It's been great having her, I didn't know her before," said Cortina rookie Chelsea Marshall of Pittsfield, Vermont. "She's a lot of fun to travel with and she obviously has a lot of experience. It might take her a while to get back into things, but I think once she gets a good run under belt she'll have a lot of confidence."
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.