Lindsey Vonn was encouraged simply by making it to the finish yesterday in her weakest discipline, the giant slalom.
The 19th-place result wasn’t exactly what she was aiming for after consecutive victories in super-G and downhill the past two days, however, and Vonn was critical of the way officials injected the course at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, with water to create a more icy surface.
“Here in Cortina it’s the best snow on earth - it doesn’t get any better than this. They had a perfect track and in my opinion they ruined it,’’ Vonn said. “There’s no need whatsoever for injection on this hill.’’
The race winner, Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, also questioned the practice, which is meant to make the course hold up throughout the race. Often in the technical races of slalom and giant slalom, courses get worn down with ruts and later starters have little chance of being competitive.
The problem this time was that water injection was used only on the bottom section of the course, with the snow untouched on the top.
“The conditions were changing from top to bottom. They watered the 10 gates at the bottom,’’ Poutiainen said. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to have two different types of conditions on the course. Someone said it would have been very soft on the bottom, but I don’t know.’’
Poutiainen posted a two-run combined time of 2 minutes 26.51 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany finished a distant 1.05 seconds behind for the first podium result of her career, and giant slalom world champion Kathrin Hoelzl of Germany placed third, 1.45 behind.
Giant slalom is the only discipline in which Vonn has never finished on the podium. She failed to score a point in her previous four GS races, failing to finish the last three.
Vonn retained a 56-point lead in the overall World Cup standings ahead of Germany’s Maria Riesch, who finished eighth.