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A Surging Lindsey Vonn Finds Respite On The Slopes

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LAKE LOUISE, CANADA - Lindsey Vonn of the USA takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Downhill on December 2, 2011 in Lake Louise, Canada. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

LAKE LOUISE, CANADA – Lindsey Vonn of the USA takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women’s Downhill on December 2, 2011 in Lake Louise, Canada. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) – Lindsey Vonn remains on top of her game despite the turmoil in her life.

She dominated at Lake Louise last weekend, winning two World Cup downhills and a super-G by a combined margin of 3.82 seconds — a landslide in skiing.

Her success comes in the midst of divorce proceedings from her husband of four years, Thomas Vonn, who also served as her adviser and personal coach.

But if the tumult is affecting her, Vonn certainly isn’t showing it on the slopes.

Now, the Olympic gold medalist returns to the comfort of home as she races in a rescheduled super-G on Wednesday at Beaver Creek. The Birds of Prey course is just five minutes from her place in Vail.

“I really would love to win at home, so I’m going to look at the video and make sure in Beaver Creek that I clean some turns up and make sure I’m skiing a little more aggressive than I skied (Sunday),” Vonn said.

That performance is going to be difficult to top. She crushed it in Lake Louise, winning her 11th race on that hill. So commanding has Vonn been at the venue that it’s now kiddingly become known as Lake Lindsey.

With her three-day sweep, Vonn now has 45 career wins, leaving her one behind Austria’s Renate Goetschl for third on the career` list.

“This whole weekend I had a huge smile on my face,” Vonn said.

A reprieve from what has been going on away from the slopes.

Vonn announced her split Nov. 27, the same day she withdrew from a slalom in Aspen. She cited a back injury during training.

Many wondered how she would fare without Thomas Vonn, who had become a rock in her life. He made sure she wasn’t overextending herself with appearances and interviews, helped with logistics and kept everything running smooth so Vonn could keep her focus on speeding down the mountain.

A network of family, friends, coaches, teammates has now stepped in and supported her through a difficult time.

Yet even this weekend was more than Vonn could have imagined. She won a downhill Friday by 1.95 seconds, her largest margin in that discipline. And with her win Sunday, Vonn earned the second three-day sweep of her career. She also had a hat trick at Haus im Ennstal, Austria, in January 2010.

Not only that, but she extended her lead in the World Cup standings to 422 points, opening a sizable gap on top rival Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who ended Vonn’s reign as overall champion last season.

“It’s definitely a lot more than I expected considering everything that’s going on,” Vonn said after the race Sunday. “I didn’t come into this race expecting this. Now I’m leaving here with a lot of confidence going into my home race, feeling good and ready to compete.”

It’s not often Vonn gets to compete in her backyard. The race was moved to Beaver Creek because of a lack of snow in Val d’Isere, France. There’s also a men’s giant slalom Tuesday and a men’s slalom Thursday.

Vonn has never really raced on the hill, but did side-slip the course during the 1999 championships. The only U.S. female skier who really has taken a race-related run on the course is Resi Stiegler, a forerunner for the men’s super-G in 2007.

“Hopefully, I can take this momentum with me to Beaver Creek and finally get a win in my hometown,” Vonn said.

Vonn isn’t the only skier entering the super-G on a roll. Teammate Julia Mancuso finished third in Lake Louise on Sunday. Like Vonn, Mancuso is eager to attack the course.

“The hill looks really challenging so I think it will be a lot of fun,” Mancuso said. “Watching the men’s race, it was very turny, steep and always moving — and that’s the kind of hill I like.”

Same with Vonn. Although, just about every hill seems to suit her these days. She also won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.

“We do our best every day and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Vonn said. “Thankfully, this weekend everything worked out really well.

- By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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