Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn crashes in final race of season (video)

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An exhausted Lindsey Vonn crashed in her final race of the season but escaped without major injury, gliding to the finish at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., on Thursday.

Early in her super-G run, Vonn had to stand up to make a gate. She ended up hitting the gate, losing her balance, falling on her back and sliding into safety netting. Vonn got up on her own without much delay.

“Just didn’t quite have enough direction,” Vonn, who came to the World Cup Finals with a chest cold, said on NBCSN. “I’m also really tired from being sick, and I just didn’t have the strength to pull that off. So I’m happy that nothing [worse] happened. Man, I tell you, I’m really exhausted. My body has taken a beating this year. I’m ready to reset, regroup and be ready for the Olympics next season.”

The last 13 months have been some of Vonn’s gnarliest, which is saying something. She suffered three knee fractures in a race crash on Feb. 27, 2016. Before returning to racing this season, she broke her right upper arm in a Nov. 10 training crash. Vonn called the latter the most painful injury of her career.

Still, Vonn returned to competition, on limited training and still with pain, on Jan. 15. She won her 77th World Cup race six days later, moving to within nine victories of the career record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn went winless in her last 11 starts this season, but she picked up a world championships downhill bronze to become the oldest female medalist of all time at age 32.

She also tallied three straight World Cup runner-up finishes, skiing this winter with her right ski pole taped to her glove. She still lacked feeling in the hand from the Nov. 10 crash.

Vonn goes into next season with one primary, tangible goal — to grab an Olympic medal in PyeongChang after missing the Sochi Winter Games (also due to crashes).

“My goal is just to be healthy,” Vonn said Thursday. “Sometimes I’m really impatient. I try to bite off more than I can chew.”

Vonn will also hope to close in on Stenmark’s record. She has averaged about 10 wins per season when healthy, but given the injuries, her age and emerging rivals in Slovenian Ilka Stuhec and Italian Sofia Goggia, catching Stenmark has become a taller task since last February.

Vonn has said she plans to race in the 2018-19 season and repeated that intention on Thursday.

“I’m going to give myself a little bit more time to get that World Cup win record,” she said.

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Ilka Stuhec beats Lindsey Vonn in World Cup Finals downhill

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Slovenian Ilka Stuhec spoiled the day for Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin by dominating the World Cup Finals downhill in Aspen, Colo., on Wednesday.

Stuhec won by a comfortable .66 over Vonn, adding the World Cup downhill season title to her world championships gold medal last month. Italian Sofia Goggia was third, 1.03 behind.

Stuhec won half of the eight World Cup downhills this season after needing 113 World Cup starts before notching her first podium in December. She was 25th in the downhill standings last season.

Vonn finished runner-up at her third straight World Cup race on Wednesday. She actually fell crossing the finish and slid into a soft barrier, but Vonn walked off smiling.

Vonn, who came back in January from crash-caused knee and arm fractures last year, raced Wednesday with a chest cold and her right glove taped to her ski pole. She has dealt with a lack of feeling in her hand resulting from breaking her right upper arm in a November training crash.

“I think it cost me a couple of tenths, but I should have been a lot faster than a couple of tenths today to beat Ilka, so probably didn’t really matter,” Vonn said on NBCSN.

She remains stuck on 77 career World Cup wins, nine shy of the record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn, 32, has averaged about 10 wins per season when fully healthy, but six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller says she is now facing the toughest two rivals of her career in Stuhec and Goggia.

“Lindsey hasn’t seen that type of competition in the last several years,” Miller said on the NBCSN broadcast. “She’s definitely going to have to buckle down in the offseason and get things figured out. For me, Lindsey at her best and over the course of a season is going to have several wins in the downhill and super-G. She just is that strong.”

Stuhec’s win also kept Shiffrin from clinching her first World Cup overall title. Shiffrin, who didn’t race Wednesday, will clinch Thursday if Stuhec finishes third or lower in the super-G.

If not, Shiffrin will clinch Saturday or Sunday if she finishes in the top 12 of the slalom or giant slalom, or gets help from Stuhec, who is not strong in those disciplines.

Full Results | Broadcast Replay

Earlier, Italian Peter Fill repeated as men’s downhill season champion despite not winning any of the eight races this season.

Fill placed second, .08 behind countryman Dominik Paris, in the race on Wednesday. That was enough to make up a 33-point standings deficit on Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who finished 11th in Aspen. Full results are here.

The World Cup Finals continue with men’s and women’s super-Gs on Thursday, expected to be Vonn’s last race of the season. NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air coverage from 12-2 p.m. ET.

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Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin share jokes, peace of mind at World Cup Finals

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Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin began answering at the same time when asked at a group press conference about the meaning of this week’s World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo.

After a brief moment of confusion, Vonn, 32, lifted her microphone to her lips and ceded the floor to Shiffrin, 22.

“Beauty before age,” she deadpanned.

Shiffrin chuckled and answered the question.

“I was just going to say that ‘Dumb and Dumber’ was filmed here,” the Vail native said, drawing laughs and a smile from Vonn. “Everybody’s been talking about it. That’s unique.”

Vonn and another veteran skier on stage, Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, then turned to Shiffrin and chided her for not being alive when the December 1994 film came out.

World Cup Finals races run from Wednesday through Sunday in Aspen. Vonn and Shiffrin will be skiing with less pressure than years’ past.

“It’s the end of the year,” Vonn would say Monday night. “Everyone’s kind of ready to be done, ready to celebrate.”

The World Cup Finals are the last races of the season on the men’s and women’s World Cup tours, beginning with downhills Wednesday. All races will air on NBC Sports via NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app (full schedule at the bottom).

The Finals often determine who takes home crystal globes awarded to the best skier’s per discipline and overall for the season.

But Vonn will not add to her total of 20 globes this year due to injuries that kept her off the competition slopes for November, December and half of January. She has too much ground to make up in the downhill and super-G standings.

Shiffrin is too far ahead of the competition to lose the slalom title. She mathematically clinched her fourth slalom globe in five years with her latest victory in an 11-win season Saturday.

Shiffrin has also 99-percent clinched the World Cup overall title, with a 378-point lead going into this week’s races. She will become the fifth American to take home that crystal globe, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

With globes wrapped up, the dangling carrots for Vonn and Shiffrin this week are purely race victories.

Vonn’s events are up first, a downhill on Wednesday and a super-G on Thursday. Shiffrin’s specialties — slalom and giant slalom — are Saturday and Sunday.

Vonn will hope to add to her total of 77 World Cup wins, which is nine shy of the career record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. A victory or two in Aspen will lessen the pressure on Vonn to catch Stenmark in the 2017-18 Olympic season.

Vonn, who has averaged about 10 wins per season when healthy, has just one victory this year, coming back from crash-caused knee and arm fractures in 2016.

Slovenian Ilka Stuhec has emerged as the world’s best speed racer, while Italian Sofia Goggia edged Vonn in the downhill and super-G at the 2018 Olympic track two weekends ago.

Shiffrin has no rival in Saturday’s slalom. She has won seven of the nine races in the discipline this season, plus her third straight gold at the world championships.

But Sunday’s giant slalom could feature an interesting head-to-head.

France’s Tessa Worley leads the season GS standings by 80 points over Shiffrin and will wrap up that crystal globe with a top-12 finish. Little intrigue there.

But Shiffrin’s GS has improved this season to the point where she could be considered a favorite to beat Worley in Friday’s race. Shiffrin has won three of the last five World Cup giant slaloms, plus took silver behind Worley at the world championships last month.

Shiffrin is about to wrap up one of the most successful seasons in World Cup history. Her 11 wins in one campaign are the most-ever by an American other than Vonn.

If Shiffrin wins both the slalom on Saturday and the GS on Sunday, she will reach 13 wins this season, only done three times by male or female skiers in World Cup history. And she would get to 33 career World Cup wins, matching Bode Miller‘s total for the second-most by an American.

Behind only Vonn, of course.

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World Cup Finals broadcast schedule
(all NBC, NBCSN coverage also streamed)

Day Time (ET) Network Event
Wednesday 12-2 p.m. NBCSN, Streaming Men’s, Women’s Downhills
Thursday 11:30 a.m. Streaming Women’s Super-G
Thursday 12-2 p.m. NBCSN Women’s, Men’s Super-Gs
Friday 12:30-2 p.m. NBCSN Team Event
Saturday 11 a.m. Streaming Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1
Saturday 12 p.m. Streaming Women’s Slalom Run 1
Saturday 12:30-2 p.m. NBC Men’s GS, Women’s Slalom Run 1s
Saturday 6-8 p.m. NBCSN Men’s GS, Women’s Slalom Run 2s
Sunday 11 a.m. Streaming Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1
Sunday 12 p.m. Streaming Men’s Slalom Run 1
Sunday 1-4 p.m. NBCSN Women’s GS, Men’s Slalom