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Vonn wins World Cup downhill title as fog denies final race

The Associated Press

3/13/2013 12:19:33 PM

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland -- The weather was on Lindsey Vonn's side this time when it came down to deciding a World Cup title.

The injured Vonn won a record sixth straight World Cup downhill title without having to show up on the mountain Wednesday, and despite having been unable to race for more than a month.

Fog cancelled the season's last race in the discipline, allowing Vonn to retain her title -- just one point ahead of overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia. And that's despite Vonn missing much of the season, first because of a stomach illness and then a season-ending knee injury five weeks ago.

"Omg I won the World Cup Downhill title!!!!! 6 in a row with a bum knee!" Vonn wrote on her Facebook page.

It was just the opposite for Vonn two years ago, when she was denied a chance at a fourth straight overall title by similar weather conditions in Lenzerheide. Then, the season-ending giant slalom was cancelled and Vonn lost by three points to her good friend Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.

"Everything in life comes back around. (hashtag)believe (hashtag)karma (hashtag)onelegvictorydance," wrote Vonn, whose title streak is a downhill record in 47 seasons of men's and women's World Cup racing.

Maze was trying to become the first woman to win five crystal globes in a season -- the overall and four discipline titles -- but conceded defeat in a Twitter post to Vonn.

"I guess the DH globe belongs to someone else, Congratulation Lindsey! What goes around comes around!" wrote Maze, who has dominated much of the season and broke the record for overall points.

Hoefl-Riesch, who also had a slim chance of winning the downhill title, quickly sent Vonn a message on her Twitter account.

"Congrats to (at)lindseyvonn for the dh globe! Now you know how I felt 2 years ago ;-)," Hoefl-Riesch wrote.

Fog hung on the lower slopes all day and earlier forced the International Ski Federation to cancel the men's downhill. The women's race was cancelled at 2:30 p.m. (1330 GMT), three hours after its scheduled start.

On Thursday, Maze will be favoured to take Vonn's super-G title. She holds a 55-point lead over Julia Mancuso with 100 points awarded to the race winner.

Vonn's lone trophy from arguably her most difficult season is a World Cup record 17th crystal globe, overtaking Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell.

The 28-year-old American has won four overall titles and 13 in individual disciplines.

Vonn raced in only five of the seven downhills, winning twice at Lake Louise, Alberta, after recovering from a stomach illness.

"Coming back from that and then going to Lake Louise and pulling off those wins was very, very impressive," Alex Hoedlmoser, U.S. women's team head coach, said. "It's really cool to see actually that she's going to get the reward with the globe."

Vonn came home from Europe for a midseason break before getting a third victory at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, in January.

After her Feb. 5 crash in the world championships super-G race in Schladming, Austria, Vonn was stuck on 340 downhill points and left the door open to Maze.

The 29-year-old Slovene then finished fourth in Meribel, France, and won her second career World Cup downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, to close within a point.

Vonn got a huge assist from unheralded Spanish racer Carolina Ruiz Castillo, whose surprise victory in Meribel with a late starting number pushed Maze down one place and cost her 10 World Cup points.

Vonn has been rehabilitating her injured right knee in the United States. She tore her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and broke a bone in her lower leg when her right ski stuck in softer snow on landing a jump.

That medal race was also delayed by fog and eventually started at the unusually late time of 2:30 p.m.

Her injury stalled the pursuit of Moser-Proell's record of 62 career World Cup race wins.

Vonn has reached 59 and, injury-free, could reasonably have expected to be within reach of the all-time mark this week.