With super-combined victory, Vonn eyes world cup hat-trick
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The US World Cup champion for the past two seasons, Lindsey Vonn has already won the super-combined this year and is the big favourite for this weekend's two remaining events, the Super-G and the downhill.
AFP - Lindsey Vonn claimed her 25th World Cup success in the super-combined here Friday to go joint top of the overall series along with German rival Maria Riesch.
And Vonn, the United States' overall World Cup champion for the past two seasons, is now taking realistic aim at a clean sweep of three victories this weekend.
Vonn had stormed down the downhill leg of the two-discipline event to give herself a huge advantage, and leave her rivals with a mountain to climb for the deciding slalom.
She then went on to use her lead of 1.52sec on Riesch, second in the downhill, to good effect to beat the German all-rounder by 1.16 at the finish.
Elisabeth Goergl, one of several Austrians to take provisional lead of the race during the slalom, finished third at 1.39, pushing Sweden's Anja Paerson and Austrian compatriot Michaela Kirchgasser into a tie for fourth place.
Vonn's third win of the season comes in the wake of two downhill victories earlier this month at Lake Louise, where she narrowly missed a clean sweep of the weekend's races there when she finished second in the super-G.
With her pet event of the downhill to come on Saturday, and the super-G on Sunday, she could realistically achieve the feat she just missed out on in the Canadian Rockies.
"I now hope to do better and make it three out of three," said Vonn, who also holds the world titles and World Cup titles in the downhill and super-G.
Riesch finished second overall on the World Cup last season and, after finishing third in 2008, she appears the only woman capable of threatening Vonn's march towards a third crown.
The German, who has hosted Vonn as a guest at her family home every Christmas since the pair started competing together, admitted she was impressed by Vonn's "class" in the downhill.
"If she does nearly the same tomorrow no one will have a chance against her," said Riesch, who beat Vonn into second place in the season-opening slalom in Levi, Finland and, like Vonn, has since claimed another four podiums.
Standing 1.78 metres tall, Vonn is among the more powerful skiers on the women's circuit.
That means that when conditions dictate it, she uses men's skis in the speed events. They are harder to control, but ultimately allow her to produce more power in the turns.
"I had some fast skis today, but I think I also skied very well. I was pretty dynamic and generating a lot of speed from the turns," said Vonn, now tied with Riesch in the overall standings with 521 points.
"I'm taller and maybe a little bit heavier than the other girls. The men's skis are more stable, they're harder to turn but I'm able to generate a lot of power from that."
After leaving many of the slalom specialists trailing over two seconds in her wake in the morning downhill, Vonn simply had to ski safely in the trickier top part of the slalom to secure victory.
Despite poor visibility due to light snowfall on the slalom course, Vonn made sure she stayed out of danger.
"My goal was to have a solid downhill run so I didn't have to risk anything in the slalom," she added.
"I didn't want to take many risks at the top of the slalom course but I was able to give it everything in the lower part."
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