Vonn wins 4th overall title
Lindsey Vonn won a World Cup giant slalom Friday in Are, Sweden to secure her fourth overall title in five years, moving into second place on the all-time list behind Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell.
Vonn led after the first run and finished in a total time of 2 minutes, 28.0 seconds as she became the only American with four overall World Cup wins. Phil Mahre won three consecutive overall titles on the men's side 1981-1983.
Federica Brignone was second, 0.48 behind. Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg was third, 1.05 slower than Vonn.
"I don't know what to say," an emotional Vonn said. "I just wanted to have two aggressive runs today. I felt like I had nothing to lose and I was having fun.
"I'm just really excited. I'm thrilled. It's crazy."
Vonn won the overall three times in a row from 2008-2010. Last season, she finished second, just three points behind Maria Hoefl-Riesch. The German took the overall then when the giant slalom at the World Cup finals was cancelled because of soft snow conditions.
"It's definitely a lot less stressful to clinch the overall title before the finals. Last year at the [Lenzerheide] finals, I might have lost a few years of my life," Vonn said with a smile.
With this overall title, Vonn surpasses Croatia's Janica Kostelic, Switzerland's Vreni Schneider and Austria's Petra Kronberger, who all won three during their careers.
Only Moser-Proell has more overall wins than Vonn. The downhill specialist who dominated skiing in the 1970s won six overall World Cups.
Vonn now has 1,808 points for the season and, with five World Cup races remaining, looks set to achieve her goal of become the first woman to surpass 2,000 points. In 2006, Kostelic set the overall points record for women, amassing 1,970 points to claim the crystal globe.
"Anything is possible, but it's going to be really difficult," said Vonn. "I'm going to have to execute in every race and seize the opportunity like I did today. I've got three big chances to make the top three in the downhill, super-G and the GS [at the World Cup finals in Schladming, Austria]. But I'm going to have to execute and make no mistakes."
Friday's victory was the 52nd World Cup race win for Vonn, but only her second in giant slalom. She won the season's opening giant slalom in Soelden in October to become the fifth woman to win a World Cup race in all five disciplines.
"This season, I've really found my rhythm in GS. It's been a great year," said Vonn, who is third on the all-time list for World Cup race wins. Moser-Proell won 62 and Schneider 55.
"I had a good day and skied pretty clean, even though my second run wasn't my best," said Rebensburg, who won back-to-back giant slalom wins in Ofterschwang last weekend. "I heard from the coaches [ahead of the second run] that it was not easy to ski well, so I tried to ski without mistakes."
The German looks set to secure the giant slalom title at the finals in Schladming. She leads the discipline on 550 points, 95 ahead of Vonn in second place.
"It's wrapped up," Vonn commented with a smile.
The top Canadian in Friday's race was Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que. She finished 25th, dropping her to 26th in the world giant slalom rankings and leaving her out of the World Cup final by one spot.
"I went into it attacking but it was just one of those days when conditions were not the greatest," Gagnon said.
With files from CBC Sports