World Cup Alpine racing: Truckee’s Stacey Cook takes ninth in World Championship downhill; Vonn wins again
VAL d’ISERE, France (Feb. 9) – After collecting gold in the 2009 FIS World Championship super G last week, American Lindsey Vonn stormed to another win in Monday’s downhill at Val d’Isere.
Truckee native Stacey Cook, who now skis out of Mammoth Mountain, finished ninth for her best result of the season.
Vonn clocked a 1:30.31 on the steep and technical course, while Swiss youngster Lara Gut was second, .52 seconds behind. It was the first U.S. women’s downhill title since Hilary Lindh won in 1997. Cook, meanwhile, posted a time of 1:32.37.
“I was hoping in these World Championships to win one gold medal. To win two is so unbelievable,” Vonn said. “I skied with my heart. It was an incredible day for me. I work so hard and I live for a day like today.”
The World Championship downhill was no exception as fresh snow in Val d’Isere delayed the women’s start, originally scheduled for Sunday. In addition to the overtly challenging technical components of the hill, which Vonn called the most demanding on the women’s circuit, the delay added another mental hurdle for racers to overcome. On Sunday, Women’s Head Coach Jim Tracy said the woman with the toughest mind would win the race.
“It was a tough day for me. I was really nervous. We’ve had two days off and I’ve been thinking about being disqualified in the super combined, but really getting excited about the downhill,” Vonn said. “I was nervous in the start but my husband was there and he got me calmed down and in the right mood for attacking. And that’s what I did.”
Cook said her top-10 finish was a great confidence booster. Running early, she came through the finish nine-tenths of a second in the lead.
“It felt good to come down in the lead at the World Champs. That was pretty special,” Cook said. “All I wanted to do at the top was execute my line and ski my plan and I think, considering how bad the year’s been so far, that it was a great achievement for me, to have a little bit of confidence in the start and be able to do what I wanted to do.”
Cook handled the added pressure of delays well, trying to keep things light.
“I came here and I was just having fun. I’ve been freesking a lot more than normal and just enjoying my time with my teammates and everyone and I think it’s transferring into skiing, so I’ll just keep that going,” she said.
World Championship racing continues Wednesday with the men’s team event.
The next women’s race is the giant slalom on Thursday, Feb. 12.
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As seniors from North Tahoe collected diplomas this week, a group of Lakers continued another local tradition — capturing first place at the boys’ regional golf championship.