Vonn’s relatives arrive as skier nears record

Andrew Dampf
The Associated Press
Lindsey Vonn looks for speed during a downhill training session in Cortina, Italy, on Thursday.
Alessandro Trovati / AP | AP

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Lindsey Vonn is starting to sense this could be a special weekend.

So is her family.

Five of Vonn’s closest relatives are flying in to Italy in hopes of seeing Vonn match or possibly break Annemarie Moser-Proell’s all-time World Cup wins record.

While boyfriend Tiger Woods isn’t making the trip, Vonn’s father, her stepmom, her mother, her stepdad and her younger sister Laura all will be on hand when the racing begins Friday with a downhill — Vonn’s specialty.

Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.

“So it will be a lot of people and hopefully a good weekend,” Vonn said after leading the only training session Thursday by 0.12 seconds ahead of American teammate Julia Mancuso.

It also could be emotional considering her repaired relationship with her father, Alan Kildow, who taught her to ski but from whom she was estranged while married to Thomas Vonn.

On a course where she has already won seven times, Vonn needs one victory to match Austrian great Moser-Proell’s 62 wins set between 1970 and 1980.

“I got my first podium here, and I have a really good understanding of the hill,” Vonn said. “It’s like my European Lake Louise. I’m hoping for some more great memories this weekend.”

Vonn has won 15 races in Lake Louise, Alberta, which is clearly her favorite slope. But Cortina is next on the list.

Besides her seven wins on the Olympia delle Tofane course, Vonn also has seven podium finishes, including her career first in 2004.

But the slope this year is different from past seasons. With so little snow having fallen in the Dolomites Range, the Tofane’s terrain and jumps stand out more than usual.

“I skied pretty well today but I know I can ski better for the race tomorrow,” said Vonn, who stood up out of her tuck at the end of her training run. “I was a little bit intimidated by all the jumps and the air that were in the course today. But despite that I think I skied solid and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Friday’s race originally was scheduled for Bad Kleinkircheim, Austria, last weekend, but was postponed due to difficult weather conditions.

“I’m really happy we have three races here,” Vonn said. “It gives me chances to get a few more wins, so we’ll see.”

But heavy snow is forecast for the weekend, which could affect the schedule.

“I hope the weather will keep us surprised and happy this weekend,” said overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia, who was third in training, 0.18 behind Vonn.

Maze, the only other skier besides Vonn to win a downhill this season, will likely be the American’s top challenger. She won one of the two downhills here last season while Vonn was out recuperating from a series of knee injuries.

After initially tearing up her right knee in a crash at the 2013 world championships in Schladming, Austria, Vonn re-injured herself last season in France as she was attempting to return for the Sochi Olympics, which she ended up missing.

“My mom is actually coming here with her ticket for Sochi that she exchanged,” Vonn said. “I think she was one of the only people that bought that trip insurance that you can buy on Expedia.”

Vonn clearly wants to make it a worthwhile trip — for her family, her support team, her fans, and for herself.

“I’m just going to try to ski my best,” she said. “And we’ll see what happens.”