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Vonn hopes to see podium under the lights

Slalom has not been kind to U.S. standout

FLACHAU, Austria – Lindsey Vonn is hoping the lights will improve her slalom performance at a women’s World Cup event tonight.

The three-time overall champion failed to finish her opening run in three straight races and hasn’t been on a podium in more than a year since placing second in Levi, Finland, in November 2009.

The American racked up 180 points in speed races this weekend and said she’s “going to train (slalom) two days and hopefully find my form somehow and get a top-10.”

From her 37 career wins, only two have come in slalom and both were during the 2008-09 season.

Vonn earned top-10 finishes in the first two events this season, coming in sixth in Levi and eighth in Aspen, but then lost her way in skiing’s most technically demanding discipline.

“Slalom hasn’t been going that well for me,” she said.

“It started off well, but the last couple of races it just hasn’t been happening for me,” she added.

Last year, Vonn crashed out in the opening run of the Flachau event after losing a ski. She still has good memories of the women’s equivalent to the traditional men’s World Cup night race in nearby Schladming.

“I love night races,” Vonn said. “When I was young I grew up in Minnesota and we always used to ski at night, every day from 7 to 10. I love skiing in the lights. It’s a fun atmosphere in Flachau; there are so many people and so many great fans, so I am excited.”

Vonn’s main rival and good friend, Maria Riesch of Germany, is seeking her first slalom win of the season. Riesch, who leads Vonn in the overall World Cup standings by 923 to 827 points, has finished second in four slaloms this season.

The race will be the third straight women’s slalom to be staged under floodlights, after Semmering, Austria; and Zagreb, Croatia.

“Last year went pretty well for me. This race suits me,” Riesch said. “I like night slaloms. It’s always a great atmosphere with bright lights and dark skies. We usually go out and train in the morning and get some rest in the afternoon but avoid getting sleepy for the evening.”