If Lindsey Vonn‘s goal is to make a World Cup podium before the Sochi Olympics, she’ll have to improve one second after her training run Wednesday to do it in Val d’Isere, France.
The Olympic downhill champion placed 12th in the first training run for Saturday’s race. Vonn completed the course in 1 minute, 50.53 seconds, .97 behind third-place Carolina Ruiz Castillo of Spain on Wednesday. Maria Hoefl-Riesch was fastest in 1:49.30.
Vonn, 29, returned from major right knee injuries in Lake Louise, Alberta, two weeks ago and competed in three races, improving each day with a 40th and an 11th in downhills and a fifth in a super-G.
She told reporters after her final race there that she might race one or two more times before the Olympics in February.
“I want to make sure I at least get on the podium once, if not win before going into Sochi,” she said Dec. 8. “For me mentally I really want to have that in my back pocket.”
The racers will have two more days of training before the downhill race Saturday. There is a giant slalom Sunday, but Vonn is not expected to enter that event and may not do giant slalom at all this season.
If Vonn races a World Cup again after Val d’Isere, it likely would not come until January because there are no speed races the rest of 2013.
There are downhills in Altenmarkt, Austria; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on consecutive weekends beginning Jan. 11.
Vonn has competed at Val d’Isere once since 2010, but her track record there is spectacular. She’s won nine of 18 career races there, including World Championships in the downhill and super-G in 2009.