The slalom world champion beat in-form Swede Maria
Pietilae-Holmner and France's Nastasja Noens to emerge as the U.S.
women's team's best chance of a gold medal in Russia next month.
Asked whether she would be the only female American contender at the
Olympics, Shiffrin said: "I'm sure the speed team will return to
form in January but at the same time, we all race for ourselves, and
for me this is an important victory after two unexpected defeats."
Shiffrin was a lowly 12th in Courchevel before Christmas and second
behind Marlies Schild in Lienz after clinching the season's
inaugural World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland, in November.
U.S. Ski Team coaches Patrick Riml and Alex Hoedelmoser gave news of
Vonn's rehabilitation work in the finish area of the Bormio stadium
and hinted that the defending Olympic downhill champion might not be
seen back in action before the Olympics.
"Her knee is very swollen and it's impossible for her to consider
skiing for now," Hoedlmoser told journalists.
[to top of second column]
Vonn tore knee ligaments at the world championships in
Schladming in February and revived the injury in training in
Copper Mountain in November, a new incident which was probably
more serious than originally thought.
She was forced out of the last downhill she entered in Val
d'Isere last month after her knee failed her.
"To race without a ligament is extremely risky and can have
serious consequences. If she was a young athlete, we would have
stopped her already," Riml said.
Vonn was planning a further test in one of her favorite resorts
in Cortina d'Ampezzo on January 18-19 but her return now looks
doubtful and the coaches may consider entering her for the Sochi
downhill without any other prior race.
"It totally depends on how she recovers, how the knee feels, if
she gets the strength back, the stability in the knee," said
Hoedlmoser. "But the Sochi course is not very difficult and
would suit her ideally in normal circumstances."
(Reporting by Patrick Lang; editing by Martyn Herman)
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