Lindsey Vonn Denied Defense of Her World Cup Title

Mar 21, 2011
Outside Magazine

Three-time overall World Cup ski champion Lindsey Vonn was denied a chance to defend her title Saturday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, after the International Ski Federation cancelled the season's final event because of wet, foggy weather, the AP reports. Vonn's friend and rival Maria Riesch of Germany won the overall title by default by a margin of just three points.

“Win or lose, I just wanted the chance. I feel devastated,” Vonn said in a statement released by her U.S. team. Had she won, it would have been her fourth consecutive overall title, which combines points earned across five skiing disciplines throughout the World Cup season.

"The cancellation of this race doesn't just hurt me," Vonn said. "It hurts the fans and the sport of ski racing as a whole."

The AP quotes the International Ski Federation as saying the decision to cancel was not taken lightly.

"Working with these kind of snow conditions, we don't have any tools that would make it a fair race," spokeswoman Riikka Rakic told the Associated Press by phone. "All the efforts have been undertaken, but it was not quite enough."

Vonn sat out several events in February to address the lingering effects of a concussion she suffered February 2 during a training run in Austria, which allowed Riesch to extend her overall lead. Vonn did go on to narrow the gap and secure titles in three individual disciplines: Downhill, Super G, and Combined. She was hoping for a shot at the overall title.

"There may never be a day where I don't look back and say, 'What if?' " Vonn said. "But right now, all I'm thinking about is how much harder I need to work this summer to continue winning races."

Not content on missing a final showdown, Universal Sports has proposed ten alternate ways the title could have been decided, such as board game showdown, staring contest, or runway walkoff. Although, "simply having Vonn and Riesch get to close out the season with the final two races that were meant to be on the calendar" would have been best.

For a recap on the season and the Vonn-Riesch rivalry, see the Universal Sports video.

--Michael Webster

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