For skier Lindsey Vonn, yet another World Cup title
By ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Just 24 hours after clinching her fifth consecutive World Cup downhill title, the American who grew up skiing at Buck Hill in the Twin Cities suburbs clinched her third straight super-combined trophy Sunday after the final race in the discipline this season was canceled due to heavy snowfall on the Sochi 2014 Olympics course.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) initially said the race might be rescheduled for Are, Sweden, next month, but then scrapped that idea.
"You never want to have a (title) clinched with a canceled race," Vonn said. "I had it happen to me last year at the finals for the overall globe, and I've won a super-combined title before in this way when they canceled the last super-combined in Crans-Montana. ... I would love to have another chance to be on the podium, but today was just not meant to be."
Vonn now has 14 World Cup titles in her career, and she's on course to add two more before the end of this season with a fourth overall globe and a fourth super-G title.
After Crans-Montana was canceled two years ago, sparking a controversy, the FIS created a rule which states that a title can be awarded if two of three races are completed in a discipline.
With just two super-combi races completed this season, Vonn took the title with 180 points, 55 points ahead of Slovenia's Tina Maze and 60 points in front of Austria's Nicole Hosp.
Both completed super-combi races were held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, last month. Vonn won the first and finished second behind German rival and friend Maria Hoefl-Riesch in the other.
"It's a joke with just two races," said Hoefl-Riesch, who finished fourth in the standings, 70 points behind. "They should only have super-combi at world championships and Olympics. In World Cup, it's too much for the four-event skiers."
The FIS appears to share Hoefl-Riesch's view. Super-combi has been left off the World Cup schedule in future years.
Organizers first delayed the start of Sunday's race by a half-hour, then an hour, then called it off completely, ending the Alpine test events for the Sochi Games on a sour note.
"I definitely think it was the right decision," Vonn said. "All the girls talked in the finish after the second inspection and we all felt it wasn't safe enough and we gave them some time to keep working on the course, and they definitely made progress, but unfortunately the snow was just rotten, it was just like sand _ an endless pit of nothing _ there's no surface.
"It's not safe enough to race and I'm really happy with the decision, because safety is the most important thing and we're all safe today," Vonn added.
Thursday's downhill training session was also canceled due to heavy snowfall and low visibility, although there was also criticism about a lack of course workers.
"The snow here is really difficult to prepare, because you have (an artificial base layer) and then comes 10-20-30 meters of natural snow and you have to mix it," said Wolfgang Mitter, an Austrian who is coordinating the races for the Russian ski federation.
There were only about 200 slippers on hand to prepare the courses here. There are often twice that many at other World Cup stops.
"There are some things to improve," Mitter said. "We will educate much more (slippers) all over Russia."
Mitter said 50 extra volunteers from Sochi came up Saturday, but they didn't help much.
"If they don't know how ski sport works you cannot work with them," Mitter said. "You need specialists. You need hundreds (of) experienced people, and we will educate them, as we did in the last year and a half. You have to have a complete men's team and women's team _ maybe about 600-700 (people). You need it if there are conditions like today."
Vonn and the other top-ranked women now travel to Moscow for a special parallel event Tuesday, while the full circuit resumes in Bansko, Bulgaria, next weekend.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)