Strong season-ending finishes by Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin led the U.S. Ski Team women to reap three titles at the season-ending World Cup Finals held this past weekend at Meribel.
Two of the globes went to Lindsey Vonn, who claimed her 66th, and 67th World Cup victories by winning both the downhill and Super-G. Vonn has now won 19 World Cup titles, the most of any woman in history, and tied with Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.
Vonn only needed to finish in the top 15 to take the downhill title, but she skipped technical races held in Sweden a week earlier in order to spend extra time training in Meribel. The training clearly paid off as she won the downhill in convincing fashion with a .24 second victory over Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl.
The following day Vonn held only an 8-point lead in the Super-G over Austria’s Anna Fenninger who put down a stunning run to move into the lead from the 15th start position. But Vonn, skiing 19th, set the pace right from starts gaining a .41 lead by the midway point and finishing .49 ahead of Fenninger.
The two titles capped a comeback season for Vonn, who underwent knee surgery following a 2013 crash at the World Championships in Schladming, Austria and a re-injuring that forced her to sit out the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
“I’m definitely more proud of myself than I expected to be this season,” said Vonn. “Being away from the World Cup for almost two seasons is a long time but I think I solidified to myself and everyone else that I’m back.”
Meanwhile Mikaela Shiffrin overtook Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter for the slalom title and her sixth win of the season. Shiffrin came into the race with a 90-point margin and only needing a top-15 finish to retain her slalom title. Nevertheless, Hansdotter has been in hot contender all season long and put down a smashing first run leaving Shiffrin .07 seconds back.
In the second run, Shiffrin skied cleanly and put down the time to beat. Hansdotter was last down the Roc de Fer course, holding a strong lead most of the way but unable to match Shiffrin on the bottom.
“Frida put a lot of pressure on me but I expected that,” said Shiffrin. “She’s a tough fighter and I’ve learned a lot from her – she’s so fast…I’m going to watch her video all summer to see how she skis so fast.”
In the end, Austrian Anna Fenninger won a repeat overall World Cup championship by 22 points, one of the closest overall title races in women’s World Cup history. Vonn finished fifth and third in the overall standings, while Shiffrin finished seventh and fourth in the overall standings.
Julia Mancuso did not compete in the World Cup Finals due to an ongoing injury. She plans to compete through the 2018 Winter Olympics.