Lindsey Vonn equaled the women’s Alpine skiing World Cup record for career victories with her 62nd win in a downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Sunday.
The 2010 Olympic downhill champion clocked 1 minute, 39.61 seconds, finishing .32 faster than second-place Elisabeth Goergl of Austria. Italian Daniela Merighetti was third, .54 behind.
Vonn screamed twice after she crossed the finish line and dropped to the snow in delight, much like her reaction when she notched her first victory since two major knee surgeries on Dec. 6 in Lake Louise, Canada.
Vonn, who first suffered the major knee injuries in a February 2013 crash at the World Championships, missed the Sochi Olympics after a January 2014 surgery. NBC will air a documentary on her comeback next Sunday.
“A lot of people counted me out and a lot of people thought I would never reach this record and a lot of people thought that I would never win again,” Vonn said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I never stopped believing in myself, and I think I proved everyone wrong.”
In Cortina, Vonn equaled the record of 62 wins set by Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Proell in 1980. She will try to break the record in a super-G in Cortina on Monday.
Moser-Proell reached 62 wins in 174 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. Vonn is 30.
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.
Vonn and Moser-Proell have met a few times 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 in December. “She’s a very nice woman, very humble and down to Earth.”
Cortina is a special venue for Vonn, the site of the first of her 107 World Cup podium finishes on Jan. 18, 2004.
“When I got my first podium here I never thought I would make it this far in my career,” Vonn said, according to SkiRacing.com. “That was the first time where I really thought I could be a contender in World Cup and never in a million years would I believe that I would break, or at least tie, the wins record.”
Retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark holds the men’s record with 86 victories.
Vonn has won three times in seven races this season and leads the World Cup downhill standings.
“I think 62 is more important to me [than 63],” Vonn said, according to SkiRacing.com. “You know, now I feel like from here on out I’m already tied for No. 1, so I’m just going to continue to try to win races, and I’m skiing for another three years [through the 2018 Olympics] so there is a lot of racing left in me.”