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Vonn takes World Cup downhill for 12th season win

By Eric Willemsen

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, March 14 2012 10:15 a.m. MDT

Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, center, holds the trophy of the alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill title, flanked by second placed Tina Weirather, of Liechtenstein, left, and third placed Austria's Elisabeth Goergl, in Schladming, Austria, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

Armando Trovati, Associated Press

SCHLADMING, Austria — Lindsey Vonn won a downhill by nearly a second Wednesday for her 12th victory of the season, the second-highest total in World Cup history.

It also was the American's 17th top-three finish in a race this season, one short of the World Cup record.

Vonn, who clinched her fourth overall title last week and her fifth consecutive downhill title last month, finished Wednesday's race in 1 minute, 46.56 seconds. That was 0.92 ahead of Marion Rolland of France. Tina Maze of Slovenia was third.

"This definitely is my best season ever. It went well in all disciplines," Vonn said after her 53rd career World Cup victory, extending her U.S. record. "Twelve wins in one season. I can't believe it's true."

Only Vreni Schneider of Switzerland won more races in a single World Cup season, with 14 in 1988-89.

And only Hanni Wenzel of Liechtenstein and Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden wound up on a World Cup podium 18 times in one season.

Vonn's not necessarily done, either. There are a super-G and a giant slalom left on the schedule, which means Vonn is also within reach of the World Cup record of 2,000 points, set by Hermann Maier of Austria in 2000.

Vonn has 1,908 points.

"That's going to be another fight," she said. "I will try to get to these 2,000 points. It won't be easy on this (soft) snow. Hermann was a genius when he achieved it."

Vonn put in a trademark downhill performance Wednesday, charging throughout the run. Rolland was leading before Vonn raced, but the American just kept increasing her advantage at every intermediate time.

"It was no easy race," Vonn said. "The snow was weak and it was warm. I was afraid that the snow would not hold up, but luckily it was OK."

Another U.S. racer, Julia Mancuso, was second in the training run Tuesday, and was fast again in the upper part of the course Wednesday. But she lost speed lower down and wound up finishing sixth, one spot ahead of teammate Alice McKennis, who gave the United States three of the top seven spots.

They raced in sunny conditions after mild temperatures and rain over the last couple of days had softened the snow on the course, which will be used for next year's world championships.

World champion Elisabeth Goergl started fast and led Rolland at the first section but lost time as she skied and finished eighth. Last season's World Cup overall champion, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, never looked comfortable during her run, struggled to keep the race line and came in 13th place.

Maze earned her 10th podium finish of the season, including at least one in all five disciplines, but is still seeking a victory.

In the men's race, Klaus Kroell of Austria finished seventh, which was good enough to win the World Cup downhill title.

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway won Wednesday's race in 1:46.82, and Beat Feuz of Switzerland was next, 0.57 back. That left Feuz seven points behind Kroell in the downhill standings.

"This is definitely the biggest achievement of my career," Kroell said.

Feuz leads the overall standings heading into Thursday's super-G.

"Everybody keeps asking me about the overall," Feuz said, "and I just try to get it out of my head and focus on my racing."

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