Slovenian Ilka Stuhec spoiled the day for Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin by dominating the World Cup Finals downhill in Aspen, Colo., on Wednesday.
Stuhec won by a comfortable .66 over Vonn, adding the World Cup downhill season title to her world championships gold medal last month. Italian Sofia Goggia was third, 1.03 behind.
Stuhec won half of the eight World Cup downhills this season after needing 113 World Cup starts before notching her first podium in December. She was 25th in the downhill standings last season.
Vonn finished runner-up at her third straight World Cup race on Wednesday. She actually fell crossing the finish and slid into a soft barrier, but Vonn walked off smiling.
Vonn, who came back in January from crash-caused knee and arm fractures last year, raced Wednesday with a chest cold and her right glove taped to her ski pole. She has dealt with a lack of feeling in her hand resulting from breaking her right upper arm in a November training crash.
“I think it cost me a couple of tenths, but I should have been a lot faster than a couple of tenths today to beat Ilka, so probably didn’t really matter,” Vonn said on NBCSN.
She remains stuck on 77 career World Cup wins, nine shy of the record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.
Vonn, 32, has averaged about 10 wins per season when fully healthy, but six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller says she is now facing the toughest two rivals of her career in Stuhec and Goggia.
“Lindsey hasn’t seen that type of competition in the last several years,” Miller said on the NBCSN broadcast. “She’s definitely going to have to buckle down in the offseason and get things figured out. For me, Lindsey at her best and over the course of a season is going to have several wins in the downhill and super-G. She just is that strong.”
Stuhec’s win also kept Shiffrin from clinching her first World Cup overall title. Shiffrin, who didn’t race Wednesday, will clinch Thursday if Stuhec finishes third or lower in the super-G.
If not, Shiffrin will clinch Saturday or Sunday if she finishes in the top 12 of the slalom or giant slalom, or gets help from Stuhec, who is not strong in those disciplines.
Earlier, Italian Peter Fill repeated as men’s downhill season champion despite not winning any of the eight races this season.
Fill placed second, .08 behind countryman Dominik Paris, in the race on Wednesday. That was enough to make up a 33-point standings deficit on Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who finished 11th in Aspen. Full results are here.
The World Cup Finals continue with men’s and women’s super-Gs on Thursday, expected to be Vonn’s last race of the season. NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air coverage from 12-2 p.m. ET.
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