Lindsey Vonn‘s latest comeback victory, one that reinvigorated her Olympic medal hopes, came at the venue where her Olympic bid died four years ago.
Vonn overcame early season back and knee troubles to win her 78th World Cup race — and first in nearly 11 months — a super-G in Val d’Isere, France on Saturday. NBCSN will air coverage at 5 p.m. ET.
“I guess I’m not a washed-up old hag,” Vonn said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I think I proved myself, and karma definitely comes back around. I’ve got some good karma coming my way.”
She prevailed by .31 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia and .39 over Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel. Vonn has won World Cups here six times before, earning cows as prizes.
Vonn put in a scare, nearly skiing out at the bottom of the course, but let out her usual victory screams in the finish area and grabbed a TV camera, repeating, “Yes!”
Vonn is now eight victories shy of the record she covets — retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s 86 career World Cup wins. She has said she hopes to break the record by the end of next season, after which she may retire.
First, her Olympic return in PyeongChang, four years after missing Sochi. The final straw came at this French resort in December 2013, where Vonn skied out with MCL and joint damage on top of a previous ACL tear.
Vonn’s PyeongChang medal hopes rode a roller coaster the last year.
A broken arm in a Nov. 10, 2016 crash. A win in her second race back in January, plus podiums at the world championships and at the Olympic venue in February and March.
Then a crash and a fall in two of her first three speed races this season. And last Saturday’s back injury and the images of being helped to walk with supporting poles in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
She withdrew from Sunday’s race — which was eventually canceled due to weather — flew to Austria and received therapy.
“It was mentally challenging to overcome that and be able to trust myself and push myself, even though I’m maybe not moving as well as I normally do,” Vonn said, adding that her back loosened up Saturday after the first few gates. “That’s been the biggest thing the last few weeks is just keep going, keep fighting, keep trying, keep picking yourself back up.
“I knew that the results would come eventually, but the important thing was just to continue to be tough.”
Vonn’s dad was waiting for her in his first visit to Val d’Isere.
“It was really cute when he was crying in the finish,” she said.
There was reason to doubt Vonn at age 33, given her extensive injury history. Only one woman has won a World Cup race at a more advanced age — Austrian Elisabeth Goergl in 2014.
Now, she has two months to stay healthy before the Olympic speed races, where she is a medal favorite in the downhill and super-G.
“I’m back on track,” she said. “[This win] proves what I already knew, that my skiing is good.”
First up is another World Cup super-G in Val d’Isere on Sunday (4:30 a.m. ET, Olympic Channel, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).
World Cup overall leader Mikaela Shiffrin is skipping this weekend’s races to prepare for upcoming slaloms and giant slaloms.
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Val d’Isere Super-G
1. Lindsey Vonn (USA) — 1:04.86
2. Sofia Goggia (ITA) — +.31
3. Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR) — +.39
8. Laurenne Ross (USA) — +.97
22. Alice McKennis (USA) — +1.62
24. Alice Merryweather (USA) — +2.03
34. Stacey Cook (USA) — +2.63
38. Breezy Johnson (USA) — +2.86
45. Julia Mancuso (USA) — +5.56
DNF. Jackie Wiles (USA)