Lindsey Vonn wins cow in Val d’Isere, one victory from record

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn is one win from matching the all-time women’s World Cup record after recording her 61st victory in Val d’Isere, France, on Saturday.

Vonn, in her fourth race this year coming off knee surgery, captured a downhill by .19 of a second over Austrian Elisabeth Goergl and German Viktoria Rebensburg.

“It was a pretty wild ride,” Vonn said. “I made some mistakes, but I was charging and skiing aggressively.”

She received a calf as a prize, nine years after she won a cow that she named Olympe with her first Val d’Isere downhill victory.

“It’s even better because I get a cow,” said Vonn, who named it Winnie. “I get a little baby cow, one month old.”

Vonn can tie the women’s all-time wins leader, retired Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell, with a victory in Sunday’s super-G in Val d’Isere. That will be Vonn’s last race before the new year.

“I have such great memories from Val d’Isere, now adding another great memory today,” Vonn said. “Hopefully, tomorrow is another Christmas present.”

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Her comeback from major knee surgeries the previous two seasons has been remarkable. Vonn’s last race in her aborted comeback last season was in Val d’Isere on Dec. 21, when her weak right knee gave out and she was unable to finish — with boyfriend Tiger Woods watching from the finish area. She had further surgery in January and missed the Sochi Olympics.

“Today was a really good test,” Vonn said. “I haven’t had a lot of mistakes in the races yet, where I really have to put every bit of weight on my knee. Today, I definitely had to do that, and it was perfect.”

Vonn finished eighth in her first race back in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Dec. 5, then won the next day and finished second the day after that.

“Lake Louise is a place where I’ve won so many times that sometimes people automatically assume that I’m going to win there,” Vonn said. “[Saturday was] more for everyone else that they understand that I’m back to what I used to be.”

She’s now third in the World Cup overall standings, though well behind Slovenia’s Tina Maze. Vonn is a four-time World Cup overall champion and the 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist.

“I feel like I did a few years ago, when I could make mistakes and still win,” Vonn said.

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The relationship between Vonn and the legend she’s chasing will be a topic of reporting going into 2015. They have met a few times — Moser-Proell is 61 years old; Vonn is 30 — and sat down for a 25-minute conversation in German before this season. Moser-Proell told Vonn she hoped the American would break her record, according to this translation.

“I don’t know her very well,” Vonn said two weeks ago. “She’s a very nice woman, very humble and down to Earth.”

Moser-Proell reached 62 wins in 174 career World Cup starts (almost half Vonn’s current total of starts), retiring after the 1980 Olympic season and starting a family. She won her only Olympic gold medal in Lake Placid and was just shy of 27 years old in her last World Cup race.

Not only did Moser-Proell retire at an early age, she also retired twice. Her first leave was at age 22 in 1975, when she married a ski salesman, nursed her dying father and missed the 1975-76 season, including the Innsbruck Olympics. She returned to racing the following season.

“The less I talk about it,” Vonn said of the record, “the faster I get there.”

Vonn also said she still hopes to race against men, a bid that was denied by the International Ski Federation in November 2012, before her first major knee injury in February 2013.

“In places where it makes sense, like Lake Louise, where I’ve had a lot of success and I feel very confident there, I would definitely like to race with the men still,” she said, “but right now, my form isn’t quite good enough. I need more training and more competitions in order to really be confident in saying I want to race with the men.”

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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