Vonn returns to run downhill at Aspen Mountain, has sixth best training time | AspenTimes.com

Vonn returns to run downhill at Aspen Mountain, has sixth best training time

Women's downhill returns to Aspen for first time since 2007

By David Krause | The Aspen Times
Lindsey Vonn takes a minute to catch her breath on Monday after her training run at Aspen Mountain. She had the sixth-best time in Monday's training.
David Krause, Aspen Times

Lindsey Vonn was on an Aspen downhill course for the first time in nearly 10 years, and the Vail skier was winded when she finished her training run Monday.

But it wasn’t fully because of the test on the hill. Vonn had the sixth fastest training time Monday at the first of two World Cup Finals sessions in anticipation of Wednesday’s season-ending downhill. Plagued by injuries all season, Vonn is looking to finish strong after returning last month.

A chest cold she caught on the way back from South Korea earlier this month had its lingering effects when she got in the finish area Monday and needed extra time to get her wind.

“I’m having a hard breathing, which is not ideal at this altitude,” Vonn joked after her run. “I’m fine. I just took it a little easy today to conserve energy.”

It’s just another in a series of setbacks this season. Vonn, 32, broke her right arm in a training crash in November at Copper Mountain. She was at the time recovering from a knee injury that ended last season early.

Since her return, Vonn has moved to sixth in the downhill standings but can’t catch leader Ilka Stuhec, who had the second-best time Monday in 1 minute, 40.68 seconds. Viktoria Rebensburgh of Germany had the best time, going 1:40.54.

“The course is actually nice. I like it a lot. The snow is perfect,” Stuhec said. “I hope we will get a little bit of sun over the next days. otherwise, it will be fun.”

Vonn has history with the Aspen downhill, but the course was different. In her only World Cup downhill race here, Vonn finished fourth in December 2007 as the course went down Ruthie’s Run, not Aztec.

“It’s definitely nothing what we raced here last time,” Vonn said. “I like it. Hopefully I get a better look at it tomorrow. … The guys are used to grippy snow, but for us it was like butter.”

Vonn won the downhill in Germany, the second race of her return, and finished second earlier this month in South Korea. She has 77 career World Cup victories, which is nine behind the record held by Ingemar Stenmark. He won his 86th and final race (a giant slalom) in Aspen in 1989.

The women have another training session scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, then the World Cup Finals race is 11 a.m. Wednesday.

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