With many injured skiers out, Vonn set for surprise GS start

FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2017 file photo Austria's Marcel Hirscher waits in the finish area during an alpine ski, men's World Cup slalom, in Kitzbuehel, Austria. Multiple World Cup Overall winner Hirscher broke his left ankle during a training on Moelltaler glacier in Austria, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. While injuries have forced many of ski racing’s biggest names including Hirscher to sit out the season-opening World Cup events this weekend, American standout Lindsey Vonn surprisingly announced her start in Saturday’s giant slalom. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta, file)
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2017 file photo United States' Lindsey Vonn smiles during a news conference in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria. While injuries have forced many of ski racing’s biggest names to sit out the season-opening World Cup events this weekend, American standout Lindsey Vonn surprisingly announced her start in Saturday’s giant slalom. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta, file)

SOELDEN, Austria — While injuries have forced many of ski racing's biggest names to sit out the season-opening World Cup events this weekend, American standout Lindsey Vonn has unexpectedly announced her start in the women's giant slalom.

The absence of GS specialists like Lara Gut, Anna Veith, Federica Brignone and Eva-Maria Brem might present Vonn with a good chance to score valuable World Cup points in Saturday's race, her first GS start since January 2016.

Those points could ultimately help Vonn, who is ranked outside the top 30 in the discipline standings, to get a more favorable starting position in the Olympic giant slalom in Pyeongchang in February.

"The most important thing and what I am concentrating on are the Olympics," Vonn said Thursday. "The biggest thing this season is staying healthy. I really don't want to take any chances. I just want to ski solid. I just need enough points to get in the top 30 so I can start 16th."

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