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Published March 03 2011

Minnesota native Lindsey Vonn poised to tie Paerson on career win list

TARVISIO, Italy (AP) — Back at full strength after her head injury, Lindsey Vonn can tie Sweden's Anja Paerson this weekend for fourth place on skiing's victory list.

The Minnesota native won for the 40th time on the World Cup circuit last weekend in Sweden. She will have three chances over the next three days to match Paerson's mark of 41.

Only three women have more victories that Paerson: Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell with 62, Switzerland's Vreni Schneider with 55 and Austria's Renate Goetschl with 46.

"I'm still a long ways off, so I'm just going to try winning races and we'll see where I stand at the end of my career," the 26-year-old Vonn said Thursday. "But I still have a lot that I would like to accomplish."

The weekend opens with a super-combined Friday, followed by a downhill Saturday and a super-G Sunday. When the women last raced in Tarvisio two years ago, Vonn had one victory and two runner-up finishes.

Paerson is still racing, although she's not sure she'll enter each race this weekend because of knee problems. She hasn't won all season.

Still, Paerson has a record that Vonn can't match this weekend. The Swede is one of four skiers to win in all five disciplines since the super-G was introduced in 1982. The others are Austria's Petra Kronberger, Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg and Croatia's Janica Kostelic.

Vonn has won in every discipline but giant slalom, where she has never finished among the top three.

"Winning all five events would be something that I really would like to achieve, so I have some years left that I can still get that in," Vonn said. "But I would like to try get it sooner rather than later."

Vonn sat out the second half of last month's world championships because of the lingering effects of a concussion.

"I feel fresh and my head feels good," she said. "I feel like my concentration is there and I'm able to ski the way I want to ski."

Vonn trails German rival and good friend Maria Riesch by 196 points in the overall standings, with only two more stops on the circuit following this weekend. It's looking likely that the American's run of three consecutive overall titles will end.

"It's Maria's title to lose at this point," Vonn said. "All I have to do is try my best and try to win races and in ski racing anything is possible, so I'm not giving up yet."

Vonn, however, does have a chance to clinch her fourth successive World Cup downhill title this weekend and her third straight crystal globe in the super-G.

American teammate Julia Mancuso is aiming to establish herself as skiing's third force behind Vonn and Riesch. Mancuso is fifth overall, 58 points behind Austria's Elisabeth Goergl and 17 behind Slovenia's Tina Maze. The Californian is third in the downhill standings behind Vonn and Riesch and fourth in the super-G, trailing Swiss teenager Lara Gut by just 15 points.

"A good goal for me is to keep pushing to be top three in super-G, downhill and even the overall is a possibility," Mancuso said.

Finishing even in the top five overall would be quite a jump for Mancuso, who was 20th last season and 27th in 2008-09. She placed third in 2006-07 before being slowed by hip and back problems for several seasons.

While she has won Olympic and world championship silver medals over the past two seasons, Mancuso hasn't won a race in exactly four years, her last victory coming in Tarvisio.

"Time seems to be going fast and it's nice to be skiing fast again," Mancuso said.

This weekend should be a celebration of sorts for Maze, whose gold in the super-combined at the worlds marked Slovenia's first major championship victory in Alpine skiing.

Maze was greeted by some 3,000 people in Ljubljana a couple of weeks ago. Slovenian fans should have no problem reaching Tarvisio, with the border only about a 10-minute drive away.

"I was waiting a long time to get a gold and it finally worked out for me, so I feel really satisfied with my career now," Maze said. "Now I can just relax and enjoy the skiing."