Gut closes on overall title, 5th in super-G won by Huetter
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) Lara Gut all but wrapped up Alpine skiing's biggest prize Saturday, extending her lead in the overall World Cup standings.
Just don't expect the 24-year-old Swiss star to accept congratulations yet.
''No, I don't have it, I didn't win it,'' said Gut, after placing fifth in a super-G race won by Cornelia Huetter of Austria. ''There's not enough points to say I won it.''
Still, even Gut's only challenger for the title, Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, acknowledged almost a miracle is needed in the final week of the season to win.
After then-leader Lindsey Vonn suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, Rebensburg was the one active racer who could realistically catch Gut - and only by an unlikely series of results.
That did not happen Saturday as Rebensburg's 18th-place finish left her trailing by 295 World Cup points. She then said she would skip the combined event here on Sunday, and the slalom in finals week starting Wednesday in nearby St. Moritz.
Rebensburg would need to win her last three races in St. Moritz - gaining 300 points in total - and hope Gut fails to score there.
''In the overall, it is more or less through,'' said Rebensburg, who has never scored in a race where slalom is involved. ''Lara has so many points ahead. She is skiing constantly good and that helps.''
Gut therefore needs just six more race points to earn the giant crystal globe trophy awarded to the best all-around skier.
A top-25 finish will secure it on Sunday even before Gut's three strongest disciplines - downhill, super-G and giant slalom - follow at St. Moritz, where she has previously won each speed event.
''I'm just skiing races and trying to be fast every time,'' said Gut, a one-time teenage prodigy now poised to get a career-defining honor and end Alpine-crazed Switzerland's 21-year wait for a women's overall winner.
Vonn's absence denied ski fans a thrilling duel for the title, and the crowd of 6,500 at Lenzerheide also missed seeing a decisive home win.
Gut, skiing after Rebensburg and wearing bib No. 21, crossed the finish line with the third-fastest time. She held out her arms wide in apparent surprise and allowed only a wry smile as she crunched the points-scoring numbers.
Huetter started next on the 1.58-kilometer (1-mile) Silvano Beltrametti course and was 0.58 seconds faster than Gut, skiing as brighter sunshine broke through hazy clouds.
Two racers later, Gut's teammate Fabienne Suter delighted home fans by posting the second-fastest time, 0.10 back. Huetter's roommate, Tamara Tippler was third, trailing by 0.35 for a third podium finish in a career-best season.
Vonn's injured left knee ended her shot at a fifth overall title but she could still finish second in the standings. The American is currently 228 points ahead of third-place Rebensburg.
Vonn could also retain her super-G discipline title to complete a speed double with the crystal globe for downhills already won.
Gut missed the chance Saturday to overtake Vonn but can with a top-10 finish in the last super-G scheduled on Thursday. Huetter is also in contention if she wins or places second at nearby St. Moritz.
Huetter is enjoying a breakout season in World Cup speed races, and her seventh podium finish was a first career win.
''It's amazing, I can't believe it,'' said the 23-year-old Austrian. ''When you are self-confident and you feel it, it's easier.''