LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) — Lindsey Vonn feels “devastated” after losing her World Cup overall title Saturday without being able to compete for it in the season finale.
Trailing by just three points, the three-time defending champion was denied to chance to overtake friend and rival Maria Riesch when the giant slalom was called off because of poor snow conditions.
“Win or lose, I just wanted the chance. I feel devastated,” Vonn said in a statement released by the U.S. ski team.
Riesch clinched her first title after two straight seasons as runner-up.
Vonn said the sport also lost out because fans missed an epic showdown race.
“The cancellation of this race doesn’t just hurt me, it hurts the fans and the sport of ski racing as a whole,” she said.
Thick fog later descended on the Lenzerheide course, making it unlikely that the two-run race could have been completed. However, the men’s slalom race was held Saturday in thick fog after a delayed start. The men took the 10 a.m. slot originally held by the women.
Vonn acknowledged some regrets about how the season ended after five months, 33 races and a concussion. Yet she won three discipline titles in three days this month, clinching the downhill, super-G and super-combined.
“There may never be a day where I don’t look back and say, ‘What if?”‘ she said. “But right now, all I’m thinking about is how much harder I need to work this summer to continue winning races.”
Vonn defied predictions with a bold comeback in recent weeks after withdrawing midway through the world championships because of the linger effects of a concussion.
She retook the overall lead that Riesch had held since December when she finished fourth in Wednesday’s downhill. Riesch failed to score after placing 17th.
After the super-G was canceled on Thursday, the Minnesota native still had a 27-point edge. But she scored too few points in the slalom Friday, finishing 13th while Riesch placed fourth. That left her three points behind.
Vonn said her friend Riesch — whose wedding she will attend in the offseason — deserved her success.
“Maria had an outstanding season and again proved to be my biggest competitor,” Vonn said. “She’s worked really hard for this. I’m happy for her.”
Vonn said their duel had provided “one of the most exciting seasons in ski racing history.”
“I’m extremely proud to have been in the fight,” Vonn said. “A few weeks ago I was over 200 points behind, and I was able to battle back into the overall lead with just two races remaining.”
Vonn thanked her husband and adviser, Thomas, and U.S. team coaches, and praised her teammates, including Julia Mancuso, whose victory in the downhill Wednesday was one of the season’s many “what if” moments. Mancuso’s impressive first victory since 2007 pushed Vonn into fourth position, which scored 10 points fewer than third.
Lara Gut of Switzerland and World champion Elisabeth Goergl of Austria also finished ahead of Vonn in the downhill.
“Ted (Ligety) continues to take GS to a new level, Julia (Mancuso) was right back on the podium and the U.S. women won the downhill and super G standings,” Vonn said.
“I cannot thank my husband, coaches and our entire team enough for their support. This was a great season.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)