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.”
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