Vonn misses out, but not for lack of discipline
Lindsey Vonn's attempt to become only the fifth female skier to win events in all five disciplines was derailed yesterday when she was disqualified for running off the giant slalom course in La Molina, Spain.
Tanja Poutiainen of Finland won the event with a combined time of 2 minutes 16.76 seconds, thereby overtaking Vonn in the overall standings.
"There was a big roller there and that just saw me go off with a little too much direction, and I just couldn't get it back to the gate," said Vonn, of Vail, Colo.
Sarah Schleper, who also hails from Vail, went out at the same spot as Vonn. Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley, Calif., finished 18th in the first women's World Cup event held in the Spanish Pyrenees.
Poutiainen won her eighth World Cup race, beating Manuela Moelgg of Italy by 0.02 seconds.
Poutiainen had the fastest second run down the Cerdanya Catalunya course; leader Kathrin Zettel of Austria fell on her second run after catching an edge.
Poutiainen stayed on top of the giant slalom standings with 260 points and overtook Vonn in the overall race with 360 points - 2 better than Vonn.
"It's amazing, the red bib is the red bib and it's not easy for sure," Poutiainen said.
Men's Alpine skiing
Switzerland's Carlo Janka clinched his career first World Cup win during a giant slalom in Val d'Isere, France.
Janka finished his two runs in 2:22.73, beating Massimiliano Blardone of Italy by 0.20 seconds. Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) struggled under tough light and snow conditions to finish 12th - the first time in nearly two years since the reigning World Cup giant slalom champion has finished outside the top 10.
"It's tough when they start a race and the first six guys who go down get perfect conditions and then it gets blacked out and you can't see anything. You couldn't see the ground below you," Ligety said. "Every single guy around me was just hacking their way down. I tried to go hard, but it was just too hard to do when it was that bumpy."
Reigning overall champion Bode Miller (Franconia, N.H.) was the only other US skier to make it down both runs, finishing 24th.
Louie Vito wasn't getting the height he wanted in the halfpipe, so he sought out fellow American snowboarder Kelly Clark for help.
Known for her big air, Clark quickly straightened out his amplitude issues.
"She said, 'Tell yourself you have to do it and do it,' " Vito recounted.
It was sound advice that served both of them well.
Clark (West Dover, Vt.) and Vito (Sandy, Utah) each went big in snowy conditions to win the halfpipe events at the US Snowboarding Grand Prix in Copper Mountain, Colo.
Steve Fisher (Breckenridge, Colo.) was second in the men's halfpipe and Finland's Antti Autti took third.
"The last two years I haven't made finals at the first Grand Prix and that's kind of been a bummer," said Vito. "Hopefully the rest of the season follows in the right direction like this."
Soko Yamaoka of Japan was second in the women's halfpipe and Hannah Teter of Belmont, Vt., finished third. Madeline Schaffrick, the 14-year-old phenomenon from Steamboat Springs, Colo., threw down a heel side drop into a front 7, cab seven, front five, and back seven to finish fourth.
"It's amazing. I mean - Gretchen Bleiler is standing next to me!" Schaffrick said. "To be at the same competition level riding, I can't believe it. Just being in the same pipe as them is amazing."
Bleiler came in sixth after stumbling on her final run.
Mao Asada of Japan showed off her triple axel skills and Jeremy Abbott of Aspen, Colo., hit every jump, earning victories at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating finals in Goyang, South Korea.
Asada showed her competitive mettle by kicking off her free skate with two triple axels. She's the only woman to perform such a feat, and it proved decisive in defeating longtime rival Kim Yu-na of South Korea.
Abbott breezed past Takahiko Kozuka of Japan for gold in his first Grand Prix final. Abbott earned 237.72 points, while Kozuka had 224.63 and Johnny Weir of Lyndhurst, N.J., finished third.
Ice dancing world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder capped off a solid Grand Prix season with gold. Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia took the silver while Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the bronze in their first Grand Prix finals.
Thomas Florschuetz of Germany guided his team a two-man victory in Igls, Austria. Florschuetz and Marc Kuehne finished the two runs at the Olympia track in 1 minute 44.62 seconds. Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Justin Olsen (San Antonio) finished third, 0.13 seconds behind the winners.