lindsey vonn


Reflective Lindsey Vonn finishes season on podium, looks ahead

1 Comment

Lindsey Vonn was reflective after finishing third in her last race of the season, a super-G at the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, on Thursday.

Vonn said her best race of the campaign was either Wednesday’s downhill (82nd win of her World Cup career, moving four shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record) or her first of five victories this season at a super-G in Val d’Isere, France, on Dec. 16.

That Vonn won five times this season, plus became the oldest female Olympic Alpine medalist with a downhill bronze, was a testament to her proven (time and again) comeback ability.

The 33-year-old crashed and fell in two of her first three speed races in early December at her favorite venue, Lake Louise in Alberta.

“Definitely derailed me quite a bit,” Vonn told media in Are on Thursday. “Definitely the lowest point of the season.”

The following weekend, she needed supporting poles just to walk (gingerly) due to a back injury. Her right knee, the one she blew out in 2013 that kept her out of the Sochi Olympics, also aggravated her more than she let on.

Then the Val d’Isere victory on Dec. 16 — after which Vonn said, “I guess I’m not a washed-up old hag,” after her first win in 11 months — proved a turning point.

“Because I had come off a series of crashes, and my knee wasn’t doing well,” Vonn said Thursday. “To be able to pull through in that situation and come up with a win I think was really important for my confidence. It got me on the right track for the rest of the year.”

Vonn entered the Olympics in February as the downhill favorite, winning the last three World Cups leading into the Games. Vonn said in PyeongChang that her bronze medal felt like a gold. She said it was the highlight of her season, if not her best skiing.

“It’s been a very successful season, all things considered,” Vonn said Wednesday.

What’s next?

“My knee gets a break, and that’s really what matters,” Vonn said. “As you progress through the season, I definitely lose strength because I’m just not able to lift as much as I need to keep the knee supported.”

Next fall, the focus will be on Stenmark’s record. It’s Vonn’s last major goal before retirement. Next season could be her last.

The record pursuit could be impacted by the International Ski Federation (FIS). FIS is expected to rule in May on a Vonn-backed U.S. Ski & Snowboard proposal to allow her to enter a men’s World Cup race (the other remaining goal before she retires).

When the proposal was put forth last year, Vonn preferred that race be at Lake Louise, Alberta, her favorite venue (18 wins in 44 World Cup starts).

If Vonn is granted a spot in a Lake Louise men’s race in November, FIS rules could mean she’s not allowed to enter the women’s races in Lake Louise the following weekend because of her extra runs at the venue giving her an advantage over female skiers.

Missing three women’s races at Lake Louise would significantly impact her pursuit of Stenmark’s record in what could be her last season.

When the proposal was first made in 2012, Vonn said she would back down if FIS didn’t allow her to start in a women’s race in Lake Louise, too, according to The Associated Press.

Then again, Vonn has said she will not retire until she breaks the record, so she could conceivably ski beyond the 2018-19 season. And five wins outside of Lake Louise in 2018-19 is very possible. She earned 22 World Cup wins the last four seasons, an average of five and a half per season, despite numerous injuries. She didn’t win in Lake Louise this past season and still managed five victories despite the knee and back problems.

Vonn’s quest is complicated not only by the FIS proposal and her health but also by rising competition. Italian Sofia Goggia emerged the last two seasons as perhaps the top threat to Vonn since the heyday of her rivalry with German Maria Hoefl-Riesch seven years ago.

Then there’s the expected return of Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, who won six World Cup speed races in 2016-17, plus the 2017 World downhill tile, but missed all of this past season with a torn ACL.

Mikaela Shiffrin‘s maturation in downhill and super-G is not to be discounted, either.

“I’m in a good place, picking up steam, confident and relatively healthy,” Vonn said. “I hope to (break Stenmark’s record) before my knee gives out.”

The World Cup Finals conclude with slaloms and giant slaloms on Saturday and Sunday, headlined by Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin already clinched her second straight World Cup overall title and a fifth slalom season title.

Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air live coverage of the second runs of the women’s slalom on Saturday (8:30 a.m. ET) and giant slalom on Sunday (7:30 a.m. ET).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Lindsey Vonn’s Olympic legacy

Lindsey Vonn wins No. 82, beaten for downhill crystal globe (video)

1 Comment

Lindsey Vonn won her 82nd World Cup race by six hundredths of a second and lost the downhill season title by three points at the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, on Wednesday.

Vonn edged Olympic champion Sofia Goggia of Italy for her fourth straight World Cup downhill win.

American Alice McKennis took third, her first World Cup podium since her only previous World Cup podium on Jan. 12, 2013, when she won a downhill.

Full results are here.

But Goggia, who helped relegate Vonn to downhill bronze in PyeongChang, took the crystal globe for the season title combining results from all eight World Cup downhills this season. Vonn needed one skier to finish between her and Goggia on Wednesday to pass the Italian in the standings.

“It reminds me of the days when [German] Maria [Hoefl-Riesch] and I were fighting for every single title every single year,” Vonn told media in Are (Vonn and the now-retired Hoefl-Riesch finished top three in the overall every year between 2008 and 2012; Hoefl-Riesch edged Vonn for the 2011 title by three points.). “Now, there’s a new face. Sofia’s a great character. She always gives it 110 percent. Sometimes she wins. Sometimes she crashes. I feel like it’s very similar to myself.”

Vonn was going for a ninth downhill crystal globe, which would break her shared record with retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark for the most season titles in one discipline.

Instead, Vonn appeared content with moving four shy of Stenmark’s record 86 World Cup wins. She screamed a TV camera in the finish area after skiing into the lead, knowing Goggia was in second place and still in position to keep Vonn from the crystal globe.

“My main goal for the remainder of my career is to beat Ingemar’s record,” Vonn, who plans to race at least one more season, repeated Wednesday. “I hope to do that before my knee gives out.”

If Vonn stays healthy and on her recent pace of wins per season, she will pass Stenmark in 2019.

“It’s been a very successful season, all things considered,” she said.

Vonn races for the last time this season in the super-G on Thursday at 5:30 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel and streaming on and the NBC Sports app for subscribers. Vonn is out of the running for the super-G season title, which will go to either Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein or Lara Gut of Switzerland.

Mikaela Shiffrin, already with the overall and slalom titles clinched, races in the slalom Saturday and giant slalom Sunday.

Later Wednesday, Swiss Beat Feuz clinched the men’s downhill season title with a third-place finish in Are, adding to his silver and bronze medals in PyeongChang. Matthias Mayer and Vincent Kriechmayr shared the race win, keeping Austria from going winless in World Cup downhills over a full season for the second time in three years.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Lindsey Vonn’s Olympic legacy

Lindsey Vonn eyes more hardware, history at World Cup Finals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lindsey Vonn can break another age record and move closer to the last goal of her career on Wednesday. To do it, she must go through the Olympic downhill champion.

The international Alpine skiing season ends with the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, to decide the remaining competitions for season-long titles in each discipline.

The women race a downhill on Wednesday (7 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel and streaming on and the NBC Sports app for subscribers), a super-G on Thursday, a slalom on Saturday and a giant slalom on Sunday.

Mikaela Shiffrin already clinched the overall and slalom titles, but Vonn has work left for the downhill crown.

The 33-year-old trails PyeongChang gold medalist Sofia Goggia of Italy by 23 points combining results from the seven downhills contested so far this World Cup season. Goggia will clinch the season title if she finishes first or second on Wednesday.

Vonn will clinch a record-extending ninth downhill crystal globe if she wins and Goggia is third or worse, if she is second and Goggia is fourth or worse or if she is third and Goggia is seventh or worse.

Vonn is tied with retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark for the most season titles in a single discipline. Stenmark won eight slalom and eight giant slalom titles between the 1970s and 1980s.

Vonn captured eight of the last 10 downhill season titles. In the two years she didn’t win, she missed significant time due to injuries. This season, Vonn has started every World Cup downhill.

A ninth downhill title would also make Vonn the oldest woman to capture a crystal globe. That record is currently held by Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister.

The number that matters most to Vonn is 86 — Stenmark’s record total of World Cup victories. Vonn, by taking the last three World Cup downhill races before the Olympics, is now at 81 wins. She could get two more in Wednesday’s downhill and Thursday’s super-G (though she isn’t in the running for the super-G season title).

Even if she doesn’t, Vonn stands a great chance to catch Stenmark in the 2018-19 season, which could be her last before retirement. Vonn averaged five wins per season in this Olympic cycle despite missing significant time due to injuries.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Lindsey Vonn’s Olympic legacy