Lindsey Vonn Gets Bronze in Super-G

Andrea Fischbacher got Austria’s “Wunderteam” back on track by winning gold in the Olympic super-G Saturday, denying Lindsey Vonn a sweep of the speed events.

Taking advantage of a tricky course-set arranged by one of her coaches, Fischbacher navigated her way down Franz’s Run in 1 minute, 20.14 seconds.

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“It was really crazy,” Fischbacher said. “It was a really straight course and you had to push from start to finish.”

Tina Maze of Slovenia took a surprise silver, 0.49 of a second behind, and Vonn had to settle for bronze, 0.74 of a second back.

While many of the pre-race favorites struggled with a sharp right turn midway down, Vonn made it through that section without a problem. But then she lost nearly half a second on the bottom section of the course.

“Once I got past those difficult sections, I kind of backed off the gas pedal,” Vonn said. “I felt like I just didn’t ski as aggressively as I could have, and I think that’s where I lost the race.”

Vonn won gold in the downhill to open her Olympics, then wiped out in the slalom leg of the super-combined. Depending on how her bruised right shin holds up, the American still has two events remaining at the Vancouver Games — giant slalom and slalom.

Julia Mancuso, the American who won silver medals in her opening two events, almost went off course on that hard right turn, and finished ninth.

It’s the first Alpine victory at the Vancouver Games for Austria, which entered the race with only Elisabeth Goergl’s downhill bronze. At the 2006 Turin Games, Austria won 14 medals — four of them gold.

Fischbacher was reduced to tears after placing fourth in the downhill, finishing only three-hundredths of a second behind Goergl.

“At first I was really sad,” Fischbacher said. “Then I was just saying, ‘OK, maybe I make it in the super-G.’ “

Fischbacher’s coach, Juergen Kriechbaum, set the super-G course according to International Ski Federation rules that rotate the job to correspond with the higher-ranked super-G skiers.

While Vonn has already wrapped up the season-long World Cup super-G title by winning three of the five races held so far, Fischbacher stands third in the event standings.

Fischbacher finished second behind Vonn in the last super-G before the Olympics, in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Jan. 31.

Fischbacher has won two World Cup races in her career, one super-G and one downhill — the last coming almost exactly a year ago in Bansko, Bulgaria.

While she swept gold in downhill and super-G at last season’s world championships in Val d’Isere, France, Vonn doesn’t always dominate in super-G like she does in downhill. She went more than two years without a super-G victory between January 2007 and February 2009 before winning the final four races of last season. She also had some minor problems at the beginning of this season, finishing second and third in the opening two super-G races.

Super-G is often tougher than downhill because there are no training runs. Skiers are allowed only to slowly slip down and inspect the course the morning of the race. Having the right equipment can also be a tougher test than in downhill, because there are fewer chances to test things out.

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