Lindsey Vonn finishes ninth in second downhill of season

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U.S. skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn was back for her second race in Cortina d’Ampezzo on Saturday, cracking the top 10, but still looking to recapture the speed necessary to win on the World Cup.

Ninth out of the gate, Vonn’s time gradually slipped behind leader, Austria’s Romona Siebenhofer, as she made her way to the bottom of the mountain. Vonn crossed the finish line with the fourth best time, but found herself in ninth after every skier had their say. Full results are here.

Friday marked Vonn’s return to World Cup competition after her season was put on hold when she injured her knee in November. Vonn’s history of injuries and the list of protective gear she now wears while racing are equally long. During Friday’s race, Vonn sported matching knee braces under her ski suit for the first time. Vonn even equips herself with a body airbag under her suit which deploys if she crashes.

“I wear two knee braces and an airbag and maybe I should just ski in bubble wrap. I’ve got a mouth guard. I’ve got a helmet, air bag, back protector, knee braces. I think that’s as much as really you can have, besides arm braces at this point,” Vonn said after Friday’s race according to the Associated Press.

Vonn is doing the best she can to adjust to the challenges caused by her newly-acquired accessories.

“It’s a little weird. Sometimes [the knee braces] click together,” Vonn said according to the Associated Press. “It’s definitely not aerodynamic, that’s for sure. But it’s better than not racing. Do what I got to do.”

Saturday’s downhill podium featured two skiers from Friday’s top three. Siebenhofer’s time was the best of the day once again as the Austrian won her second downhill in as many days. Second to Siebenhofer on the podium was her countrywoman, and downhill World Cup points leader, Nicole Schmidhofer, who finished in 12th in Friday’s race. Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec followed up her second place finish from Friday with a return trip to the podium, this time in third.

Tomorrow the women’s World Cup wraps up in Italy with the super-G, with World Cup points leader in the event, the U.S.’ Mikaela Shiffrin, scheduled to race. Watch live on TV on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold starting at 5:00 a.m. EST.

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