Off to fast start
Vonn wins slalom opener
Lindsey Vonn felt at home north of the Arctic Circle.
Picking up where she left off last season, the defending overall champion won the World Cup slalom opener yesterday in Levi, Finland. Vonn, a speed specialist from Burnsville, Minn., had never finished among the top three in the slalom before. She called her performance "mind-boggling."
"This is such an incredible way to start the season," she said. "There's no way I could have predicted my first win would be a slalom."
Vonn overcame a big mistake late in the second run for a total time of 1 minute 47.98 seconds on Levi's Black Course.
"I was going a little bit too straight," Vonn said. "The course was getting a bit tighter and I was just kind of sitting back a little bit and pretty much stopped. I realized my mistake and just thought I had to give everything I had."
Vonn led Nicole Hosp of Austria by 22-hundredths of a second after the first run and ended up beating runner-up Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden by .40. Maria Riesch of Germany was third, .66 behind. Hosp, who was runner-up in the overall standings last year, finished fourth.
"This was completely wild," US coach Trevor Wagner said.
Vonn, who has 13 World Cup wins in speed events, seems to be in good shape to repeat her success from last season. "My goal is to defend the overall title."
Figure skating - Patrick Chan won his second Grand Prix title and Joannie Rochette, 22, held off defending champion Mao Asada to give Canada a double victory at the Trophee Bompard in Paris. Chan, 17, placed first in the free skate to finish ahead of Takahiko Kozuka and Alban Preaubert. Caroline Zhang, 15, of the United States earned third place. In pairs, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany clinched the title ahead of Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov of Russia . . . New England skaters captured five titles at the Eastern Sectional Championships at the Skating Club of Boston. Earning spots in the US Championships in January: Ross Miner of Watertown, junior men; Yasmin Siraj of Brookline, novice ladies; Christopher Fernandes of Hudson, N.H., novice men; Una Donegan of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and Andrew Korda of Saco, Maine, novice ice dance; Olivia Gibbons of Brighton and Tyler Harris of New Jersey, novice pairs. Also advancing by finishing in the top four are Brittney Rizzo of Braintree, second in senior ladies; Curran Oi of Wellesley, second in senior men; Jason Wong of Boston, third in senior men; and Gretchen Donlan of Hingham, fourth in junior ladies.