ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) — Lindsey Vonn took a faster line in downhill training on Thursday, and that bodes well as she tries to fill one of the few gaps in her medal collection.
The American has never finished on the podium in five combined races at worlds and three Olympics since 2002, though she does have two season-long World Cup titles from the event that includes a downhill run and a slalom run.
Vonn has not completed a combined race at a major championship since her best result — fourth at the 2005 worlds in Bormio, Italy. At the 2009 worlds and 2010 Olympics, she led the morning downhill but could not sustain her lead in the afternoon slalom.
It gets no easier in Friday’s medal race in St. Moritz, where Vonn has skied on a slalom course for the first time since a World Cup race last February.
“It was interesting,” Vonn said Thursday of her preparation. “I think what my legs were doing was pretty good considering I haven’t skied slalom since the combined in Andorra last year.”
She plans to attach the ski pole to her right glove and avoid the handling issues — an ongoing issue from breaking her right upper arm in November — which led to an early exit in super-G on Tuesday.
“I definitely have to tape it pretty solidly for the race,” Vonn said after doing the same for a downhill training run. “But I think it will be good enough for one race of slalom.”
Vonn was fourth-fastest in downhill-training Thursday, taking a more aggressive approach in the second formal practice session. The fastest racer was again Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia.
Stuhec was 0.53 seconds quicker than Fabienne Suter of Switzerland, and perhaps will start as the favorite on Friday. Stuhec won the only World Cup combined raced this season, plus three downhills.
Christine Scheyer of Austria was third fastest, 0.02 quicker than Vonn. The Austrian, who was a surprise winner in Zauchensee last month, will be a threat in Sunday’s downhill.
The women completed practice under clear blue skies, but fog rolled back across the slope in the early afternoon to end the men’s downhill training ahead of schedule.
Only 30 of the 82-man lineup were able to start, and Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria was fastest by 1.30 seconds. After disappointing in super-G on Wednesday, Beat Feuz of Switzerland was second fastest, edging Olympic champion Matthias Mayer of Austria.
Super-G gold medalist Erik Guay of Canada was fourth fastest, and on Saturday he will be aiming to become the first to sweep the two speed titles since Bode Miller in 2005.
“Anything is possible,” said the 35-year-old Guay, though cautioning that “come Saturday, I think I’m going to have a certain amount of pressure.”