Winter Sports

Lindsey Vonn Fifth in World Championships Alpine Combined

Lindsey Vonn Fifth in World Championships Alpine Combined

Memories and Duct Tape Propel Vonn To Fifth

ST MORITZ, Switzerland (Feb. 10, 2017) – A roll of duct tape and fond memories of growing up racing slalom can go a long way in ski racing. Just ask Lindsey Vonn, who battled to fifth in the alpine combined at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Friday.

Switzerland swept the top two positions in Friday’s race with Wendy Holdener taking the gold and Michelle Gisin the silver – both first time World Championship medalists. Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser took the bronze – her third career World Championship medal. Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) was 15th and Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) was 22nd.

Vonn Slalom
Skiing only her third slalom run in the past year, Lindsey Vonn finished fifth in Friday’s alpine combined at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. (Getty Images- Alexander Hassenstein)

However, the story of the day was Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who finished third in the morning downhill, but suffered a crash training slalom before the second run and was airlifted off the course. Gut was diagnosed with a torn ACL in her left knee and did not compete in slalom. Her racing status for the rest of the season has yet to be determined.

“I’m really hoping that (Lara) is not badly injured,” Vonn said. “It’s always a shame to see that happen. It’s happened to me all too often.”

Ross Slalom
Laurenne Ross was 15th in Friday’s alpine combined. (Getty Images- Alexander Hassenstein)

Vonn, who returned to ski racing last month following a pair of injuries, including breaking her right arm, has experienced issues with maintaining her right pole grip since returning to competition. In Tuesday’s super G, she lost her pole grip midway down the track, which resulted in a break of concentration and a DNF. So in Friday’s combined, she duct taped the pole to her hand.

“It’s better with duct tape,” she said after she took sixth in the downhill run. “My hand seems to stay on the pole, so that’s good! My hand is just not strong enough, especially in slalom, I skied slalom for the first time two days ago and I had no idea if it would work, but we just taped it. My hand was a little bit sloppy … but good enough for fifth place.”

Vonn, who hasn’t trained or raced slalom much over the past couple years may have surprised others with her fifth-place finish, but for her, it was all about digging deep into the memory bank and getting back to her skiing roots of doing slalom laps on Buck Hill under legendary coach Erich Sailer.

“I really just thought about growing up skiing in Minnesota,” said Vonn, who has only skied two slalom runs in the past year, but counts two World Cup slalom victories to her credit. ”I grew up skiing slalom. I know how to ski slalom. Just because I haven’t done it in a really long time doesn’t mean I can’t do it. So I wasn’t going to let anyone underestimate me. I went out there and I attacked. It wasn’t quite good enough for a podium, but I’m still proud of my performance.”

Most importantly though, Vonn was able to put down another run on the downhill track, setting her up nicely for Sunday’s downhill event.

Cook Downhill
Stacey Cook skied to 22nd in Friday’s combined at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. (Getty Images-Alexander Hassenstein)

“I’m excited for Sunday,” Vonn said. “I’m going to lay it all out on the line, like I do every day, every race, and I hope that I can get on the podium.”

Up next, the women race downhill Sunday at 6 a.m. EST. All events are streamed live on NBCsports.com and the NBC Sports app.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Switzerland went 1-2 in the women’s combined with Wendy Holdener winning gold and Michelle Gisin silver – both first time World Championship medalists.
  • Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser was third – her third career World Championship medal.
  • Lindsey Vonn was the top American in fifth place. Laurenne Ross was 15th and Stacey Cook 22nd.
  • Switzerland’s Lara Gut was third in the morning downhill, but suffered a left knee injury training slalom prior to the second run and did not start.

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