Gut remains perfect in super-G; Vonn struggles in 9th

Switzerland's Lara Gut competes during an alpine ski, women's World Cup super-G, in Garmisch-Panterkirchen, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. (AP)

Defending overall World Cup champion Lara Gut extended her perfect run in super-G this season with a comfortable win Sunday while Lindsey Vonn struggled to a ninth-place finish.

For her third straight super-G victory, Swiss skier Gut finished 0.67 seconds ahead of Stephanie Venier of Austria and 0.86 in front of Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Vonn, who won a downhill Saturday in just the second race of her comeback from a knee injury and a broken arm, finished 1.65 seconds behind.

Gut didn’t appear satisfied with her performance initially, shaking her head in the finish area, but her smile grew wider when it became clear that she had secured her 22nd career victory.

Gut became the fourth woman to win the first three super-G races of the season after Carole Merle (1988-89), Katja Seizinger (1997-98) and Vonn (2015-16).

With 100 points awarded for wins, Gut put a big dent in Mikaela Shiffrin’s lead in the overall standings. Shiffrin, more of a technical specialist who was not racing this weekend, now holds a 135-point lead over Gut.

Vonn started after Gut and immediately made a tactical error early in her run then had a tough time negotiating the more technical giant slalom-like turns midway down the Kandahar course, which was set by a Swiss coach. Still, the American appeared content and acknowledged the crowd upon reaching the finish with a wave of her ski pole.

While Vonn has won a record 27 super-G races, it’s going to take her more time to get up to speed in the discipline compared to downhill. Unlike downhill, super-G races are not preceded by official training runs, meaning Vonn will need to work harder with her coaches to regain her form in time for next month’s world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Vonn broke her upper right arm 10 weeks ago in a training crash on Copper Mountain, Colorado, while recovering from a left knee injury that ended her season prematurely in February.

Last week, Vonn revealed that she struggled with nerve damage so severe that she couldn’t move her fingers after undergoing arm surgery in November. She has been skiing with a battery-operated heated sock over her right hand to help her maintain feeling and hold onto her ski pole.

Venier posted the first podium result of her career, with her previous best finish sixth in a super-G last month.

Weirather finished second behind Gut in the first two super-Gs of the season.

Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria finished fourth and giant slalom specialist Tessa Worley of France was fifth.

Several top skiers failed to clear gates in their runs, including local favorite Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, in-form Italian skier Sofia Goggia and former overall World Cup champion Anna Veith of Austria.

The women’s circuit travels to San Vigilio di Marebbe, Italy, for a giant slalom on Tuesday before more speed races in Cortina d’Ampezzo next weekend.

Meanwhile, the International Ski Federation announced that an Alpine combined canceled in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, last weekend has been rescheduled for Crans Montana, Switzerland, on Feb. 24.