Winter Sports: Foul-mouthed Lindsey Vonn draws ire of Slovenian team after World Cup super-G victory
St. Moritz, Switzerland • Lindsey Vonn's rivalry with World Cup leader Tina Maze heated up and threatened to boil over Saturday, when the Slovenian's coaches accused the American defending champion of hurling an insulting expletive after winning a super-G.
Vonn edged Maze to remain perfect in four speed races this season, then was shocked to find herself in a fight she hadn't intended and didn't want.
In venting her emotions on crossing the line, and realizing she had taken the lead from main challenger Maze, Vonn acknowledged she used a curse word as an expression of relief.
Still, the Slovenian team which targeted a three-race weekend sweep for Maze after her win in Friday's super-combined surprised most observers by alleging Vonn deliberately aimed an insult, and filed an official protest for "unsportsmanlike behavior."
"They think I said something very bad about her when I came to the finish and that is absolutely not true," a clearly stunned Vonn said minutes after being told of the allegation. "It definitely hurts. I would never say anything bad about another athlete at the finish."
Vonn accepted that she had sworn "and I shouldn't have done that" but insisted it was a reaction to skiing poorly and failing to finish Friday, knowing she is still short of full fitness after a recent illness.
"I'm struggling with my strength," the four-time World Cup champion said, insisting she was at her limits on Saturday. "I came down (the slope) with everything I have."
Vonn's version was soon backed by World Cup women's race director Atle Skaardal, who joined United States and Slovenia team coaches to study television footage of her post-race reactions.
"We could not find any abuse whatsoever and the protest was, of course, rejected," Skaardal said later at a scheduled meeting of national team coaches.
Val D'isere, France • Alexis Pinturault of France produced a brilliant second run under floodlights to improve from sixth and win a World Cup slalom race on Saturday.
He flew down the Stade Olympique de Bellevarde course to capture the second event of his career in front of home fans in Val d'Isere. The second run was pushed back to the evening and held under floodlights because of heavy snowfall at the resort.
World cup slalom champion Andre Myhrer improved from 12th after the first run to finish fourth. American Ted Ligety finished 12th.
"The key for Ted in slalom is that he needs to make that next step into the top seven," U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick said. "He's solidified himself in the top 15 and that's a good step in the right direction for him to rack up some more points in the future."
Altenberg, Germany • Olympic bronze medalist Natalie Geisenberger led a German sweep in a luge World Cup event Saturday.
Geisenberger earned her 12th career win, leaving behind teammates Anke Wischnewski (by 0.123 seconds) and Corinna Martini (0.356) in second and third. She leads the overall standings.
Tatjana Huefner, Olympic and four-time world champion and World Cup titleholder, was fifth behind Alex Gough of Canada.
Americans Erin Hamlin and Emily Sweeney finished seventh and 10th, respectively.
Sochi, Russia • Mao Asada of Japan won the Grand Prix Final on Saturday, topping American Ashley Wagner in a clean free program that ranged from sprightly to quietly refined.
Daisuke Takahashi of Japan won the men's gold, despite falling on his opening quad. Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan won silver, edging Patrick Chan of Canada.
Wagner was just a half point behind Asada heading into the free skate, but fell twice and ended up a distant second. Akiko Suzuki of Japan was third at the Iceberg arena, which will host figure skating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the ice dancing gold, beating Canadian world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France took bronze.
Winterberg, Germany • Titleholder Beat Hefti of Switzerland returned to the bobsled World Cup circuit and won his first race of the season by dominating a two-man event on Saturday.
Hefti missed the first three races in North America because his usual brakemen were injured. He and Thomas Lamparter beat Alexsandr Zubkov of Russia and his brakeman Dmitry Trunenkov by a half second. Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden of Canada came in third 0.40 seconds back.
Steven Holcomb of the United States, who won all three of the North American races, finished fifth with brakeman Curtis Tomasevicz.
Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada won her sixth consecutive race going back to last season pushed by brakewoman Chelsea Valois. Elana Meyers of the United States was second with Katie Eberling, 0.10 seconds behind.