Lindsey Vonn: 'I just wanted the chance'

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland -- Lindsey Vonn feels "devastated" at losing her World Cup overall title Saturday without being able to fight for it in the final race.

The three-time defending champion was denied the chance to overtake friend and rival Maria Riesch when the season-finale giant slalom was called off because of poor snow conditions.

"Win or lose I just wanted the chance. I feel devastated," Vonn said in a statement published by the U.S. ski team.

The Vail, Colo., resident surrendered her crown by just three points, giving Riesch her first title after two straight seasons as runner-up.

Vonn said the sport also lost out in missing what shaped to be an epic showdown race.

"The cancellation of this race doesn't just hurt me, it hurts the fans and the sport of ski racing as a whole," she said.

The decision to cancel was not taken lightly, International Ski Federation spokeswoman Riikka Rakic said.

"It's not skiable. Working with these kind of snow conditions, we don't have any tools that would make it a fair race," Rakic told The Associated Press by telephone. "All the efforts have been undertaken, but it was not quite enough."

The final points tally was 1,728-1,725 in Riesch's favor after the pair competed in 33 races in five months.

Vonn acknowledged some regrets about how the season ended.

"There may never be a day where I don't look back and say, 'What if?' " she said. "But right now all I'm thinking about is how much harder I need to work this summer to continue winning races."

Vonn defied predictions with a bold comeback in recent weeks, and after Wednesday's downhill retook the lead that Riesch had held since December.

The Minnesota native had a 27-point edge ahead of Friday's slalom, but scored too few points, finishing 13th as Riesch placed fourth.

"I had such a great season," Riesch said. "Of course, Lindsey would also have deserved it but she won it the last three years and now it is my turn -- finally."

Vonn said her friend -- whose wedding she will attend in the offseason -- deserved her success.

"Maria had an outstanding season and again proved to be my biggest competitor," Vonn said. "She's worked really hard for this. I'm happy for her."

Vonn said their duel had provided "one of the most exciting seasons in ski racing history."

"I'm extremely proud to have been in the fight," Vonn said. "A few weeks ago I was over 200 points behind, and I was able to battle back into the overall lead with just two races remaining."

Vonn thanked her husband and adviser, Thomas, and the U.S. team coaches, and praised her teammates, including Julia Mancuso, whose victory in Wednesday's downhill was one of the season's many "what if" moments. Mancuso's impressive first victory since 2007 pushed Vonn into fourth position, which scored 10 points fewer than third.

"Ted [Ligety] continues to take GS to a new level, Julia [Mancuso] was right back on the podium and the U.S. women won the downhill and super-G standings," Vonn said.

"I cannot thank my husband, coaches and our entire team enough for their support. This was a great season."