- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

VAL D’ISERE, France | Lindsey Vonn capped a successful weekend with a third-place finish in a super-G that helped her to reclaim the sole lead of the overall World Cup standings barely two months before the Vancouver Olympics.

Following her victory in Friday’s super combined, Vonn made mistakes in the upper part of the Oreiller-Killy course Sunday but finished strong to gain a spot on the podium. Franzi Aufdenblatten posted her first World Cup victory, leading Nadia Styger to a 1-2 Swiss finish with Vonn 0.26 seconds off the pace.

“Every race is important, especially for the overall, and for myself for building confidence for Vancouver,” said Vonn, who has yet to win an Olympic medal.

After a mediocre weekend of technical events last week in Are, Sweden, where she lost the World Cup lead to rival and friend Maria Riesch of Germany, Vonn bounced back in Val d’Isere. The 25-year-old American has had success in this French Alps resort, winning the super-G and the downhill at the world championships earlier this year.

Vonn has been on the podium in every discipline this season except in giant slalom and now has 581 points in the overall standings to lead Riesch by 50 points. Kathrin Zettel of Austria is third with 384 points.

Italians go 1-2 in slalom

ALTA BADIA, Italy | It was a mixed day for the U.S. Ski Team and a memorable one for the Italian squad on home snow Sunday.

Max Blardone and Davide Simoncelli finished first and second in the challenging giant slalom on the Gran Risa course, while Ted Ligety struggled with his grip to place seventh and Bode Miller failed to qualify for the second run.

Ammann wins ski jump

ENGELBERG, Switzerland | Simon Ammann’s giant first-round leap won a ski jump World Cup event cut short by strong winds and given him the lead in the overall standings.

The 28-year-old Swiss produced a 141-meter jump worth 144.8 points on Sunday before gusty conditions made competition too dangerous as the top contenders prepared to go down Engelberg’s large hill a second time.

Kircheisen gets victory

RAMSAU, Austria | Bjorn Kircheisen of Germany held off Magnus Moan of Norway in the final sprint to win a Nordic combined World Cup event for his 14th career victory.

Double world champion Todd Lodwick was the top U.S. finisher, taking fifth. Countryman Johnny Spillane was 13th, followed by Bill Demong in 14th.

Powers tops snowboardcross

TELLURIDE, Colo. | Ross Powers took a key step toward qualifying for the Olympics in snowboardcross.

The 30-year-old American finished third in a World Cup event, putting him squarely in the mix for the 2010 Olympic team. It was the second of five World Cup qualifying events for snowboardcross.

Lange wins in Altenberg

ALTENBERG, Germany | Two-time Olympic champion Andre Lange won a four-man bobsled World Cup race on his home track, and American Steven Holcomb bounced back from a crash the day before to place second.

Lange and his team - Rene Hoppe, Kevin Kuske and Martin Putze - finished 0.76 seconds ahead of Holcomb a day after he also won the two-man event on the challenging Altenberg track.

Burke leads biathlon WC

POKLJUKA, Slovenia | Tim Burke became the first American to lead the biathlon World Cup standings following a sixth-place finish in a 12.5-kilometer pursuit race.

Evgeny Ustyugov of Russia won the race, beating Roland Lessing of Austria by 9.3 seconds.

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