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Laurenne Ross Breaks Top Five In Italy; Vonn Loses Grip On Overall Lead

Laurenne RossLaurenne Ross from Bend, Ore. threw down a clean and strong run to take fifth place and lead the Americans in the La Thuile, Italy downhill Friday. Lindsey Vonn lost a ski and did not finish the race.

“It feels good to be in the top five again,” Ross said. “I am feeling more comfortable now than I have all year, and that confidence is building with time and results.”

It was the first time the Audi FIS Ski World Cup tour visited the challenging and steep La Thuile track. The snow was grippy and dry, allowing the ladies to pick up speed and crank sweeping turns. Even with a big mistake, Lara Gut of Switzerland dominated the field, winning by more than a second over Austrian Cornelia Huetter. Nadia Fanchini of Italy grabbed a podium spot in front of the home crowd, finishing in third.

Vonn was looking for her 77th World Cup win, but it was not her day, as her outside ski rattled off at the top of the course. Vonn’s DNF coupled with Gut’s victory slotted Gut back into the top position for the overall World Cup title with 1,073 points, a slight margin of 13 over Vonn.

“I was getting a little bit bounced by the ice there and I was a little bit inside with my body position and my ski just came off,” Vonn said. “I’m definitely disappointed. I thought I was skiing really well. That’s pretty much the one thing, besides the weather, that you can’t control. I did my job, and hopefully tomorrow my skis will do their job. I’m definitely going to be fired up for tomorrow.”

After finishing fifth in Garmisch at the beginning of February, Ross showed that she can consistently break into the top 10. She found speed all the way down the La Thuile course, displaying her strength and finesse to take fifth.

Behind Ross, all the finishing American women grabbed World Cup points. Alice McKennis (New Castle, CO) was 16th, Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) 19th and Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR) 20th.

Next up, the ladies race another downhill Saturday, followed by super G on Sunday. The overall lead is still up for grabs.

Alpine Men In France

The men began an alpine combined (slalom and downhill) Friday in Chamonix, France with the slalom. Homeboys Alex Pintaurault and Thomas Blondin Mermillod finished first and third, respectively. Italian Dominik Paris was third.

Top American finisher was Jared Goldberg in 20th spot, while Bryce Bennett was 21st. Andrew Weibrecht did not finish the first run. Downhill portion of the combined will be run Saturday.

Photo: Laurenne Ross, shown i n World Championship training run, breaks top five in Firday's downhill  (Voelkl.com)

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