VAL D'ISERE, France - Lindsey Vonn posted the best time in downhill training for the second consecutive day on Thursday, making her the favorite going into the World Cup events scheduled for the French Alps this weekend.
The American dominated on the Oreiller-Killy course for the second straight day, finishing in 1 minute, 44.67 seconds. She was 0.22 seconds ahead of Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl.
“It’s a fun course. I like the piste here in Val d’Isere,” Vonn said. “I had good results here in the past. I have confidence. When things are working well, it’s definitely easier.”
Vonn, the two-time defending World Cup overall champion, won downhill and super-G world titles in Val d’Isere this year and has already claimed the first two downhills of the season. But the 25-year-old American doesn’t feel untouchable.
“There are some very competitive girls here and no one is unbeatable,” she said. “I have to constantly stay focused. Hopefully in these races this weekend I can stay close to the front, but it is always difficult.”
A super combined is scheduled for Friday ahead of Saturday’s downhill. A super-G will be held on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Vonn had disappointing results last week in Are, Sweden, where she finished eighth in a slalom and skied out in a giant slalom to slip to second place in the overall standings behind Maria Riesch. The German skier has 441 points, 20 more than Vonn, but posted only the ninth best time in training on Thursday.
Goergl prevented Vonn from winning three straight races earlier this month when she narrowly beat her rival in a super-G in Lake Louise, Canada. Vonn won two consecutive downhills in the Canadian Rockies.
“I worked very hard in the summer, I’m physically very fit and I have great skis — that helps a lot,” Vonn said as she explained the reasons behind her strong start to the season. “It’s a combination of all those things and a lot of experience of the past years of racing World Cups.”
Anna Fenninger of Austria was third in Thursday’s training run, 0.57 seconds off the pace, while the Canadian team was dealt another blow ahead of the Vancouver Olympics when Kelly Vanderbeek had to be carried away on a stretcher after injuring her left knee in a spectacular fall.
Fellow Canadian Larisa Yurkiw fell heavily during training on Wednesday, picking up a knee injury that ended her season.
U.S. athletes to watch
Take a look at some of the American athletes expected to contend for medals at the 2010 Olympics.
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