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Vonn sets single-season points mark; Kirchgasser wins slalom

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Associated Press
3/17/2012 12:25:43 PM
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SCHLADMING, Austria -- Lindsey Vonn set a women's record for the most World Cup points in a season Saturday after finishing eighth in a slalom won by Austria's Michaela Kirchgasser.

Vonn reached 1,980 points to beat the mark of 1,970 set by Janica Kostelic of Croatia in 2006.

"I am very happy with that," said Vonn, the overall champion who needs 21 points in Sunday's giant slalom to also overtake Austrian great Hermann Maier's 12-year-old record of 2,000 points.

Vonn will need to finish 12th or better to overtake Maier and match his record by placing 13th.

"I hope I can do it tomorrow. I will fully attack," she said. "I am going to take risks, but I will also ski smart."

The American said it was her goal to get a few points from the slalom -- her weakest discipline -- to make Sunday's task a little easier.

"Slalom has been a struggle for me in the last couple of years," she said. "I've got a couple of top 10s this season but have not been finishing very often so it was good step for me."

After a clear, cold night, the sunshine softened the snow and made for difficult conditions.

"It was definitely really warm for the second run," Vonn said. "It was tough. I personally don't do well with really soft conditions. I struggled a little bit and maybe didn't ski as aggressively as I could have done. But I had two solid runs without major mistakes."

Vonn is also an outside contender for the GS title. She has to win the race while leader Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany fails to score points.

In that case, Vonn would win her record fifth crystal globe of the season after the overall championship, downhill, super-G and super combined titles.

"I've got a minor chance," said Vonn, who won her first GS race this season. "I will give everything and hope to make the podium."

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., was sixth, a week after claiming her first World Cup podium -- a bronze medal in Sweden. She finishes the season ranked 10th in the world in slalom.

"This is above expectations for me," said Gagnon. "I was hoping to be top 15 in one discipline this year and to be in the top 10 is great. I'm really confident I will (be better) in the giant slalom next year as well."

Kirchgasser finished in one minute 32.57 seconds for her third career victory. She was followed by Veronika Zuzulova of Slovakia and Marlies Schild of Austria.

Gagnon finished in 1:33.55 seconds.

"It's great confirmation, one good race after the other," said Canadian coach Hugues Ansermoz. "(Gagnon) had a little mistake on the first run. Second run was a great run -- also with a little mistake -- but she is again close to the podium. It's such an incredible end to the season for Mitch."

Erin Mielzynski of Guelph, Ont., gold medallist in a World Cup slalom earlier this month, went out in her first run Saturday.

"I felt ready to race today," Mielzynski said. "I've been training quite well. At the start I felt good and next thing I know, I'm on the ground."

Schild had already clinched the slalom title. She won six slalom races this season and 33 overall, leaving her one short of Swiss great Vreni Schneider's record.

"I hoped to get that 34th victory today," the world slalom champion said. "But finishing third was OK and there is always something you can do better next season."

Zuzulova led after the first run and finished 0.12 behind. Zuzulova has had 13 top-three finishes in the World Cup but has yet to win, more than any other female skier.

Lindsey Vonn (Photo: Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
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