Skiing: Lindsey Vonn wins downhill World Cup event
Cortina D'ampezzo, Italy • Lindsey Vonn is back at full speed.
Vonn won a World Cup downhill Saturday for her first victory in more than five weeks, beating overall leader Tina Maze by nearly half a second.
And most importantly, she's back to being fully healthy after a nasty bacterial problem that ate away the muscles in her powerful legs and sapped her energy the last few months.
"I'm excited to be racing and I have that fire again and I trust that my body is strong enough to ski the way I want to ski," said Vonn, a part-time Park City resident. "It wasn't always the case in all the races this year. I'm back to my old self and it's a good feeling."
Vonn clocked 1 minute, 38.25 seconds down the sun-drenched Olympia delle Tofane course. Current overall leader Tina Maze finished second, 0.43 seconds behind, and Vonn's American teammate Leanne Smith was third, 0.89 back.
After failing to finish two consecutive races in France in mid-December including an uncharacteristic fall in downhill, the discipline she's Olympic champion in Vonn left the circuit for 27 days and missed six races. Having been hospitalized with an intestinal illness in November, she wondered whether she would win again this season.
"When I decided to take the break, I was so weak," said Vonn, adding that doctors never figured out exactly what type of bacterial problem she had. "I didn't know if I was going to be able to build enough strength back up in that short time to be able to race. My legs were skinny, I lost all my muscle, I had no endurance. I really was struggling physically to be where I was before."
Vonn didn't touch her skis during her time off in the United States.
"I was off snow completely," she said. "I was just in the gym working out two to three times a day, doing a lot of endurance training, a lot of weight training just really trying to get back to where I was in the fall, before I got sick."
In her first races back last weekend in St. Anton, Austria, Vonn finished sixth and fourth in a downhill and super-G, respectively.
This time, there was no stopping her.
Christof Innerhofer of Italy has provisionally won the classic Lauberhorn downhill on Saturday in Wengen, Switzerland, and Johan Clarey of France set a World Cup speed record of 100.6 mph.
Innerhofer timed 2 minutes, 29.82 seconds down the 2.74-mile course, the longest on the World Cup program.
"For me, it's amazing winning at Wengen. It cannot be better," said Innerhofer, who won the downhill in November at Beaver Creek, Colo.
Klaus Kroell of Austria was second, 0.30 seconds behind, while teammate Hannes Reichelt was 0.76 back in third.
American Marco Sullivan finished 13th, while teammate Travis Ganong was 21st and Steven Nyman crashed out.
Anton Shipulin of Russia led almost from start to finish in the 12.5-kilometer pursuit to claim his second consecutive World Cup biathlon win on Saturday in Anterselva, Italy.
Shipulin completed the course in 31 minutes, 24.2 seconds with two penalties, finishing 22.6 seconds ahead of Jakov Fak of Slovenia.
Two-time world champion David Moeller edged Olympic gold medalist Felix Loch in a 1-2 German finish at a men's luge World Cup event on Saturday in Winterberg, Germany.
Italian veteran Armin Zoeggeler led after the first heat but dropped to third after the second run.
Moeller set a course record in the second heat to jump from third to first for his second win of the season and the 10th World Cup victory of his career.
R After battling a bacterial problem that affected her muscles, Lindsey Vonn won her first World Cup event in more than five weeks.