Vail’s Lindsey Vonn heads to Olympics after another downhill victory
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Lindsey Vonn won her second World Cup downhill of the weekend on Sunday in a perfect dress rehearsal for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
It was the American’s third straight triumph in the discipline after also winning in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, two weeks ago.
“Two wins is as good as it gets, really. It’s just been a perfect weekend,” said Vonn, who plans to compete in downhill, super-G and the combined event at the Olympics.
“It has really been the exact preparation that I was hoping for going into South Korea.”
In a similar scenario to Saturday’s race, Vonn beat Sofia Goggia for the win. The American clocked 1 minute, 37.92 seconds on the Kandahar course to beat her Italian rival by 0.11 seconds, after edging her by just 0.02 the day before. Goggia won two consecutive downhills in January but crashed in the race where Vonn started her winning streak.
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Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was a hundredth of a second further behind in third.
Vonn’s American teammate Stacey Cook crashed and was taken off the hill on a sled “as a precaution,” the U.S. ski team said, adding that Cook “is OK.” Another teammate, Jacqueline Wiles, damaged her left knee in a crash Saturday and was ruled out of the Olympics.
Winning another Olympic medal — after taking downhill gold in 2010 but missing the 2014 Sochi Games because of a knee injury — has been Vonn’s declared goal all season.
But after Pyeongchang, her focus will shift back to a record in the sport that has long been regarded as unbeatable.
Vonn’s 81st World Cup win on Sunday left her just five short of the all-time best mark set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in the 1980s.
“You get a little greedy,” Vonn said. “Once you keep winning, you want to win more. For sure, I will ski another season and see how high I can get the number. I know I can continue to win, I just don’t know for how long. I keep racking them up for as long as I can and we will see what number I can get to.”
Vonn has recovered from a rough start to her season, which saw her crashing twice in one of her favorite resorts, Lake Louise, and dealing with back and knee problems.
“I have really picked up a lot of momentum,” she said after Sunday’s win. “I feel really good physically, mentally. And everything is working well, my equipment is working well, my preparation is perfect. It really couldn’t be better going into the Olympics.”
Vonn trailed Weirather by 0.30 seconds halfway down the course but found the fastest line in the turning final section.
The American’s lead came under threat a few minutes later. Goggia was ahead by 0.04 at the second and 0.07 at the fourth split time, but failed to match Vonn’s pace on the bottom part of the hill.
Still, Goggia was still content after finishing her run.
“I am pretty happy to come away from Garmisch with two solid runs, two solid races, solid skiing,” the Italian said. “This is what I was hoping for after the crash in Cortina.”
While the downhill rivalry between Vonn and Goggia has been shaping up nicely going into the Olympics, Weirather made it clear the competition isn’t far off.
“I am going to the Olympics with confidence,” said Weirather, daughter of the two-time Olympic gold medalist from 1980, Hanni Wenzel. “The race today was important. I know that I am up there with the best.”
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