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Final run of women's giant slalom postponed until Thursday; Lindsey Vonn crashes in first run

February 24, 2010 |  3:24 pm

Vonn_500

Elisabeth Goergl of Austria holds the lead after Wednesday's opening run of the Olympic giant slalom, while American Lindsey Vonn crashed and injured her right pinkie. The second run, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, was postponed until Thursday because of poor visibility and weather conditions.

Goergl finished in 1 minute, 15.12 seconds. Taina Barioz of France was only 0.02 seconds behind, and Kathrin Zettel of Austria was third, 0.16 back.

Vonn lost control around a right turn in the middle section of the course, got twisted around, landed hard on her left hip and crashed backward into the safety netting.

Defending champion Julia Mancuso's first run was interrupted by Vonn's crash. Mancuso was brought back up for another try and placed 18th, 1.3 seconds behind Goergl.

“The course is breaking up at the bottom.  I got a little bit too inside and lost my outside ski," Vonn said. "My knee came up and hit my chin. I got all tangled up and hit the fence. I hurt my finger [right pinkie] and need to get it X-rayed.”

X-ray showed that Vonn broke her pinkie, putting her status for Friday's slalom in doubt.

The sometimes contentious rivalry between Vonn and Mancuso took a bizarre twist Wednesday after Vonn crashed in the morning run of giant slalom and forced Mancuso to restart her run.

You almost can't make this up. Vonn drew the No. 17 bib for the giant slalom, with Mancuso skiing right behind her. Because of the poor weather conditions, the racers were sent off in one-minute intervals to speed up the event.

Vonn was in the lead and well into her run when Mancuso left the start gate. After Vonn crashed into the netting near the bottom of the course, Mancuso was flagged by a course-side jury member and had to return to the start gate.

Mancuso, the defending Olympic champion in the giant slalom, ended up restarting at No. 31. After her run, Mancuso left the mixed area in tears, without comment.

"I feel terrible," Vonn said. "I hope she understands. I didn't want that to happen for the both of us." Vonn was leading the race by .35 after the third interval when she crashed.

Vonn has won gold and bronze at the Vancouver Games and Mancuso has two silver medals.

Mancuso, after the race, posted to her Twitter account: "That yellow flag in GS was such ... I just want to scream. I'm really miffed. Anyway, gotta take that energy and focus it on second run."

"I know she was disappointed," Vonn said of Mancuso. "I know she's mad and probably frustrated. She's probably mad at me, but I can't help that I fell. I was having a great run. I wish I could have come down and not have her be flagged. That's absolutely not what I wanted, but it happened and it happens in ski racing."

Vonn also said she has been hurt by comments directed at her by Mancuso.

Vonn, Mancuso, Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht made the cover of Sports Illustrated this week for combining to win a U.S.-record eight medals. But there has been an undercurrent of tension.

Mancuso said last week that she wished the rest of the U.S. ski team got more attention. She then told SI.com, "You come to meetings after races and it's like it's a bad day if Lindsey didn't do well."

Vonn's response: "I try to support Julia as much as I support all the other teammates. I've been racing with Julia since I was a little kid and yes, we're competitors, but I always support her. It definitely has hurt me that she has said some negative things about me. All I can do is to continue to support her the way I always have been, and hope that she reciprocates that. I'm always proud that an American is doing well and I was proud of her for being on the podium in downhill and super combined. It just bums me out."

-- Chris Dufresne in Whistler

Photo: Lindsey Vonn crashes. Credit: Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times.

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