Vonn fights off another injury for another victory
CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Skiing through pain is nothing new for Lindsey Vonn. She is also winning some of her toughest races while injured.
Fortified by a few painkillers, she captured a super-G Sunday despite a strained left knee. She hurt herself the day before on a strenuous and spectacular recovery in a downhill.
“It’s really swollen and it’s pretty solid pain,” Vonn said. “But that’s part of the job. It’s definitely not the worst injury I’ve had by a long shot. It’s definitely something I can deal with.”
Vonn finished in 1 minute, 22.64 seconds on a clear day, beating overall World Cup rival Maria Riesch of Germany by a 0.05 seconds. Swiss teenager Lara Gut finished third, 0.88 back. It was the second victory in three days for Vonn, who won a super-G Friday on the Olympia delle Tofane course.
Julia Mancuso, Vonn’s American teammate, finished fourth in her new Hawaiian racing suit that she designed. Swedish standout Anja Paerson was fifth.
Last year, Vonn had a severely bruised shin when she won the Olympic downhill and took the bronze in the super-G in Vancouver. The year before she won her second consecutive overall World Cup title despite slicing her thumb on a champagne bottle in a victory celebration at the world championships.
“Nothing really tops the shin injury,” Vonn said. “I feel like I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries in the past and this one is pretty mild and definitely skiable.”
Having finished third despite a big mistake in the downhill, Vonn skipped the awards ceremony Saturday and received therapy throughout the afternoon and evening.
She hopes to be healed by the Feb. 8 world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. If not, she’ll fight through it.
A few days ago, Vonn wondered about possibly getting through an entire major championship without any physical problems.
“That’s always the goal,” she said. “It just never really works out that way,”
Vonn’s injury troubles at major events date to the 2006 Turin Olympics when she crashed during training for a downhill. She went directly from her hospital bed to the race course and finished seventh in super-G and eighth in downhill. At the 2007 worlds, a knee injury ruled her out of her final event.
On Sunday, Riesch was the first of the favorites to ski and jumped a bit too far, almost missing the final gate heading into the finish area. The slight error likely cost her a victory.
Still, Riesch holds a 155-point lead over Vonn in the overall standings. Vonn leads Riesch 380-229 in the super-G.
“I’m satisfied with my weekend. It’s tough to beat Vonn in the speed events and I won on Saturday and was second today. Only Friday was bad,” Riesch said, referring to her ninth-place finish to open the weekend.
Vonn started immediately after Riesch and made virtually no errors as a few thousand spectators watched her descent on the jumbo screen in the finish area to the disco tune of “Barbra Streisand.”
It was the 39th career victory for Vonn and her fifth in Cortina, tying her with retired Italian standout Isolde Kostner. Austrian great Renate Goetschl holds the record with 10 wins in Cortina.
“I’ve had some of my best results here, but I’ve also had some really bad almost crashes or crashes, and I feel like it’s because I’m always on the limit here – you really have to push it and sometimes when you’re pushing the limits making mistakes,” Vonn said.
Mancuso, decked out in her suit featuring green tropical flowers, skied after Vonn and made a slight error toward the end of her run that cost her a top-three finish. Still, Mancuso was content with her weekend, which also included a fourth-place finish Friday and a runner-up result Saturday – her best World Cup finish in three years.
“With the way Lindsey and Maria are skiing you really have to take a lot of risks if you want to contend and at this point I’m really looking to win,” said Mancuso, who hasn’t won a race in four years.
Mancuso can also look forward to next weekend’s races across northern Italy in Sestriere, the site of her giant slalom victory at the Turin Games.
Vonn has three days off before downhill training begins in Sestriere.
“I’m probably going to take the next three days off and do therapy,” she said, before walking away with a slight limp.