Stars & Stripes flying high over Lake Louise | Skiing | CBC Sports

SkiingStars & Stripes flying high over Lake Louise

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012 | 12:04 PM

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American skier Lindsey Vonn celebrates her women's downhill win on Saturday at Lake Louise, Alta. American skier Lindsey Vonn celebrates her women's downhill win on Saturday at Lake Louise, Alta.

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The stars of the last few days in the Rockies - aside from the gorgeous Lake Louise skiing area and the hundreds of incredible volunteers preparing the mountain for World Cup racing -  have been wearing Stars and Stripes.

American skiers have produced the top four spots on the podium so far, including back-to-back wins for the amazing Lindsey Vonn.

Editor's note: This was submitted and published after Vonn's second victory. She completed the Lake Louise "hat trick" on Sunday with a win in the super-G.

The stars of the last few days in the Rockies - aside from the gorgeous Lake Louise skiing area and the hundreds of incredible volunteers preparing the mountain for World Cup racing -  have been wearing Stars and Stripes.

American skiers have produced the top four spots on the podium so far, including back-to-back wins for the amazing Lindsey Vonn.

Vonn caused a few people to gasp when she almost got caught in the 'fishnet' section of the course. At the time, she was more than half a second behind, but proceeded to set the fastest intervals in the final two sections, blazing to a winning time of 1:52.90.

Skiing to the top


That win - the 55th World Cup win of her career - came hot on the heels of her 12th win in the first Lake Louise downhill, on Friday.  Vonn is now tied with Switzerland's Vreni Schnieder with 55 World Cup wins, second only to Austrian Anne-Marrie Mosser-Proell.

I can't say enough about the professionalism with which Vonn approaches her role as ambassador for her sport. At least five times this week she stopped by our CBC broadcast location in the finish area and answered all manner of questions with the grace and style of a champion. In addition, she opened her heart in an interview with CBC Sports' Scott Russell earlier this week and talked about a myriad of topics, including the pain she felt when her request to compete against the men here at Lake Louise was summarily dismissed by the International Ski Federation. (By the way, she apologized when she was one minute late for that interview. We hadn't noticed.)

Behind Vonn both days in downhill racing at Lake Louise was her American teammate, Stacey Cook. Friday's second place result was Cook's first ever trip to the podium in her 150th career starts. She stood arm and arm with her mother Sharon as they waited anxiously to see if her result would stand up.

Proud parents

Almost a decade of training had finally paid off. It's not a usual occurrence for Sharon and Dean Cook to travel to World Cup races to watch their daughter. Stacey says it's only once every few years that they make the journey, but she might want to encourage them to visit a few more stops on the tour. 

Cook, who races for the Mammoth Mountain Ski Team of northern California also told me that she does not come from a "sporty" family. Her parents were not athletes but somehow their "no pressure" tactics have produced one of the best downhill racers in the world. Incidentally, the "no pressure" approach worked for her brother Gary, too. He's a former football player - a punter - who played for the University of Nevada Runnin' Rebels of the NCAA and even had a "cup of coffee" (as they say in the hockey world) with the NFL's Oakland Raiders.

According to Vonn, Stacey Cook's success is no fluke. Vonn told CBCSports.ca viewers that Stacey Cook has been winning all of the training runs in the last month or so and it should be no surprise that she finally turns it into World Cup success.

Practice makes perfect

Cook won these training runs at a facility that the U.S. ski team recently opened in Copper Mountain, Colorado. It's a place specifically designed to prepare American athletes for the demands of World Cup racing. According to their website, "it has been meticulously shaped to mimic all aspects of World Cup races venues across the globe."

Last season, the American women's team - lead by Vonn - won the team title by an astounding 636 points over Austria. You've got to think the new training centre played a major role in that success.

With this weekend's dominance by Vonn and Cook, another title could be in the making. And keep in mind, Julia Mancuso has yet to land on the podium this season. The 28-year-old from Squaw Valley has three Olympic medals and four world championship medals along with 31 World Cup podium spots. She is among a group of six American women who are in the coveted top 30 of World Cup Ski downhill racing.

American alpine racers are on a roll, and the rest of the ski world is playing catch up.

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