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Ramona Siebenhofer wins back-to-back downhills, Lindsey Vonn 9th in Cortina

United States' Lindsey Vonn competes during an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (Marco Trovati / Associated Press)
United States' Lindsey Vonn competes during an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (Marco Trovati / Associated Press)
By Andrew Dampf Associated Press

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Austrian skier Ramona Siebenhofer made it back-to-back World Cup downhill victories with another win Saturday, while Lindsey Vonn finished tied for ninth in the second race of her return from injury.

Siebenhofer, who had her first career win in Friday’s race, finished a slim 0.04 seconds ahead of Austrian teammate Nicole Schmidhofer.

“It’s just amazing I did it again,” Siebenhofer said. “There were many emotions and it was hard to focus on the race again today. … Sure I had more self-confidence but it was hard to sleep.”

Siebenhofer and Schmidhofer, who are roommates, have now claimed four of the five downhills this season.

Stephanie Venier, who is also rooming in a triple with Siebenhofer and Schmidhofer, finished third in Friday’s race.

“We were lying in bed eating chocolate,” Siebenhofer said. “That was the celebration.”

Added Schmidhofer, “It was so nice and cool in the room so I thought (I) needed to join in.”

Downhill world champion Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia came third Saturday, 0.51 behind, for her fourth straight podium result.

Vonn made a slight bobble at the start of her run and then struggled again midway down when she got bounced around on some bumps. She finished 1.36 behind but still moved up six spots from her 15th-placed result from a day earlier.

Vonn clearly wasn’t satisfied with her performance, holding her arms out wide in frustration at the finish.

“I always hope to win races and when you come down and you’re 1.2 off the lead it’s not exactly a really positive experience,” she said. “But at the same time of course I had fun and I love being in the starting gate and I love pushing myself.

“It’s just not quite enough in these last two races. But I still have tomorrow and I still have a lot more races this season. It’s just taking me a lot longer to get up and running than I expected.”

Vonn hyperextended her left knee and sprained a ligament while training in November, delaying the start of her final full season to this weekend. The American needs five more wins to break the all-time World Cup record of 86 held by Swedish standout Ingemar Stenmark before she retires after races in Lake Louise, Alberta, in December.

However, Vonn’s right knee is permanently damaged from previous crashes.

“I definitely don’t trust my right leg as I need to and I can’t create the power that I need to,” she said. “But today was a step in the right direction. Still not my best – far from my best.”

Starting with the No. 3 bib, Siebenhofer increased her advantage at every checkpoint. Schmidhofer came down two racers later and was faster at the final two checkpoints but couldn’t quite match Siebenhofer on the lower section of the Olympia delle Tofane course.

Schmidhofer achieved the first podium result of her career in Cortina six years ago and this was her fourth podium result overall at the Italian resort – albeit without any victories.

“I like the place, the people, the slope. It’s my favorite track,” Schmidhofer said, adding that she was looking forward to the world championships which will be held in Cortina in 2021.

While conditions were not quite as sunny as on Friday, the entire course was used following Friday’s s shortened race.

German skiers Kira Weidle and Viktoria Rebensburg finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and Ester Ledecka – the Olympic skiing and snowboarding champion – placed eighth for her best downhill result of season.

Overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin, who sat out the two downhill races, will return for Sunday’s super-G.

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