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Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn caps a banner year for American snow queens

Lindsey Vonn has wrapped up her fourth overall World Cup title this year – a feat matched by only one other woman in the history of alpine skiing. But that's not all.

By Staff writer / March 9, 2012

U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn competes during the first run of the women's FIS Alpine Ski World Cup giant slalom in Are, Sweden, Friday March 9.

Pontus Lundahl/AP

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Lindsey Vonn, the smiling girl with Minnesota roots and a mean training regime, has wrapped up her fourth overall World Cup title in alpine skiing – making her the only American to have won skiing's most coveted title four years in a row.

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"I don't know what to say," an emotional Vonn told reporters after winning a giant slalom World Cup in Are, Sweden. "I just wanted to have two aggressive runs today. I felt like I had nothing to lose and I was having fun."

Vonn's victory today – the 52nd of her World Cup career – sealed her claim to the title, which is awarded to the skier with the most accumulated points since the season opened in October. With little more than a week of racing left, Vonn has an insurmountable lead over No. 2 Tina Maze of Slovenia.

Her win caps a banner year for US women on skis. After years at the margins of a sport long dominated by alpine wunderkinds and Scandinavian speed demons, America's daring cowgirls are cleaning up.

Nordic skier Kikkan Randall blows the field away

In Nordic skiing, where for years a top-30 finish was cheered back home, Alaskan Kikkan Randall this week wrapped up the overall World Cup sprint title. A great cartoon by German artist Thomas Zipfel shows Randall in a cowboy hat with spurs and a pistol capturing the coveted crystal globe award, as rivals Marit Bjoergen of Norway and Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland cower in astonishment.

And all that despite several mishaps: One of Randall's podium finishes came after crashing when her Russian nemesis fell in front of her. But she made a superhuman surge to regain contact with the pack, nearly winning before slipping to third. In her latest sprint, she was left scooting along the track with only one ski after the other malfunctioned.

But the Kikkanimal, as she dubbed herself in high school, will still become the first American to win a World Cup title since Bill Koch in 1982 – the year she was born.

Sarah Hendrickson, ski jumping rookie

In the inaugural World Cup season for women's ski jumping, 17-year-old Sarah Hendrickson captured the overall title in stunning style. No matter that she wasn't even selected for the US Ski Team last year; she forged ahead with nine wins out of 13 competitions, capturing the crystal globe by a commanding 1,169 points over Austrian runner-up Daniela Iraschko, with 779 points.

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