Lindsey Vonn: I can still win World Cup season titles

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Lindsey Vonn believes she can win her ninth World Cup downhill title and her sixth World Cup super-G title, despite missing the early part of the season due to her broken right arm.

Vonn will race for the first time since Feb. 28 in a World Cup downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, on Saturday (5:15 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app; 3 p.m. ET, NBC).

“I want to race as much as possible,” Vonn said Thursday when asked why she came back so quickly from her Nov. 10 surgery. “The more races I can get in before world championships [in February] is obviously the goal. I also think that the World Cup title is still a possibility in both downhill and super-G.

“Mainly, I was just going crazy not being able to race.”

So far this season, three of the eight scheduled downhills have been contested, and two of the seven super-Gs. Slovenian Ilka Stuhec won all three downhills. Swiss Lara Gut won both super-Gs.

But Vonn noted that she didn’t finish two of last season’s nine downhills and didn’t start another after suffering three large fractures in her left knee in a Feb. 27 race crash. She won five and finished second in the other six, clinching the title before the season finale.

Likewise, she missed two of last season’s eight super-Gs and failed to finish another. In the five she did finish, Vonn won three and notched a pair of third-place finishes. She ended up 61 points shy of season titlist Gut.

Vonn would like to add to her trophy case of a record 20 crystal globes (four overall, 16 discipline titles). Her previously stated primary goal is to close in on the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn is at 76 wins. She would probably have to win all of her World Cup races this season, the remaining five downhills and five super-Gs, to match Stenmark. More likely, she’ll continue the pursuit next season, the Olympic season.

Vonn said she will race with “a large risk of doing more damage” to her arm for the rest of her career. It’s susceptible to another fracture above and below a plate inserted into her arm from her November surgery.

She will race with double to triple the normal amount of padding on her arm.

“Normally, in downhill, I don’t race with any padding on my arms,” she said. “It’s definitely not going to be aerodynamic, but at least I’ll be protected somewhat. If I twist my arm, get it caught behind me, that will be dangerous.”

Four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso is also expected to take a downhill training run Friday and possibly race Saturday. Mancuso has been out since March 2015 due to hip surgery.

“She came over to Europe a few days before me,” Vonn said. “It’s nice to have the whole team back together again. Last year, without her, definitely felt a little bit of a whole in the team.”

MORE: Bode Miller plans to race next season, U.S. coach says

2022 Ironman Kona World Championships results

Ironman Kona World Championships
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2022 Ironman Kona World Championship top-10 results and notables (full, searchable pro and age group results are here) …

Pro Women
1. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) — 8:33:46
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) — 8:41:37
3. Anne Haug (GER) — 8:42:22
4. Laura Philipp (GER) — 8:50:31
5. Lisa Norden (SWE) — 8:54:43
6. Fenella Langridge (GBR) — 8:56:26
7. Sarah Crowley (AUS) — 9:01:58
8. Daniela Ryf (SUI) — 9:02:26
9. Skye Moench (USA) — 9:04:31
10. Laura Siddall (GBR) — 9:07:49
16. Heather Jackson (USA) — 9:22:17
DNF. Sarah True (USA)

Pro Men
Race is on Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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Chelsea Sodaro wins Ironman Kona World Championship, ends American drought

Chelsea Sodaro
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Chelsea Sodaro was the surprise winner of the Ironman Kona World Championships women’s race, ending the longest American victory drought in the event’s 44-year history.

Sodaro, a 33-year-old mom to an 18-month-old, prevailed in an unofficial 8 hours, 33 minutes, 46 seconds on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“My mind is a little bit blown right now,” she said in a finish area interview 25 minutes later, standing next to her daughter, Skylar. “This is the culmination of things being right in my life and having perspective. … This is freakin’ incredible, but the greatest gift at the end of the finish line is my little 18-month-old.”

Sodaro was in fifth place after the 2.6-mile swim and 112-mile bike, then recorded one of the fastest 26.2-mile marathon runs in event history (2:51:45) to win by 7 minutes, 50 seconds over Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Swiss Daniela Ryf, who was eyeing her sixth Ironman world title, led after the bike but faded quickly on the run.

MORE: Ironman Kona Race Results

Sodaro, whose lone previous full Ironman was a second-place finish at June’s European Championships (reportedly in the second-fastest Ironman distance debut in history), became the first American to win in Kona since Tim DeBoom in 2002 and the first American to win the women’s race since Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser in 1996.

She is the first woman or man to win in their Kona debut since Brit Chrissie Wellington took the first of her four titles in 2007.

Sodaro (née Reilly) was an All-America runner at Cal, then placed 19th in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

She turned to triathlon in 2017, made podiums on the World Cup circuit (just below the top-level World Series for Olympic hopefuls) and moved up to long-distance racing in 2018.

At the half Ironman distance, she was fourth at the 2019 World Championships, her last major championship start before the pandemic, pregnancy, childbirth and a move up to the full Ironman this year.

“I’m pretty stoked that I think I maybe get to take the rest of the year off and be a mom for a month or so,” Sodaro said.

The pro men’s race is Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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