Lindsey Vonn Wins 36th Women’s World Cup Downhill

vonn-wins-36-world-cup-downhill

Lindsey Vonn won a women’s World Cup downhill on Saturday for her 36th victory in the discipline, matching Annemarie Moser-Proell’s all-time best mark.

Moser-Proell, who set the record in January 1980, watched the race from the stands, and the 62-year-old Austrian great was among the first to congratulate Vonn.

“She is so kind,” said Vonn, who broke Moser-Proell’s overall record of 62 victories a year ago in Italy. “I am so glad she’s here today as she couldn’t be in Cortina last year. It means a lot to me. She is a true legend of our sport.”

The American, who now has 72 World Cup wins across all Alpine disciplines, already held the record for most super-G victories with 25. That discipline was introduced in the 1980s after Moser-Proell had retired.

“I am very happy,” said Vonn, competing in her first race of 2016 after taking a break with friends and family in the United States last week. “So far I like the new year.”

Vonn, who held a comfortable lead after the first run, finished in an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 11.17 seconds, one second ahead of Larisa Yurkiw of Canada, who made the podium for the third time in her career.

Cornelia Huetter of Austria was 1.66 seconds behind in third. Overall leader Lara Gut of Switzerland failed to finish the opening run and didn’t score points. Gut remains in the lead, 58 points clear of Vonn, going into Sunday’s super-G.

With her third downhill of the season, Vonn extended her lead in the discipline standings. She has 300 points, followed by Heutter with 250 and Swiss skier Fabienne Suter, who is out injured for an indefinite time, with 200.

It was the first women’s downhill in 14 years to be contested over two runs. Organizers had to lower the start because of insufficient snow conditions in the upper part, shortening the course from its usual 3 kilometers to 1,875 meters.

“It was hard to stay relaxed,” Vonn said about her final run. “It was tough with lots of bumps. I knew many girls had problems, so I chose to ski a rounder line.”

After the first leg, Vonn led Yurkiw by 0.91, and Tina Weirather by 0.92. The skier from Liechtenstein lost balance in her final run as her left ski was airborne. She remained upright but missed a gate.

Despite building big leads over her competitors, Vonn said she “wasn’t trying to do anything special. I just tried to ski a solid run.”

“It was pretty bump; it was a lot more bumpy than yesterday,” Vonn said. “I was caught off guard in a couple of turns, but the main thing is I was still on the same line that I inspected. I didn’t get pushed around too badly.”

Gut lost balance halfway down the first run and just avoided falling but missed the next gate.

“It took me too long to react. But physically I am OK,” Gut said. “It’s become rougher — there are some bumps in it. It’s dark so you don’t see the bumps.”

The first run was interrupted for 15 minutes when Lotte Smiseth Sejersted crashed and had to be airlifted off the course with suspected knee injuries. The Norwegian skier fell and both her skis came off before she slid into the safety netting.

Sejersted returned from injury this year after a crash in Val d’Isere in December 2014 had ended her season prematurely.

SOURCE: The Associated Press