Lindsey Vonn is a woman with a plan and the conviction to stick to it. After Vonn’s uncharacteristically slow performances in Bad Kleinkirchhem, Austria, last week, she explained that she was not willing to risk everything on the bumpy course in low light conditions. Her focus is on the Olympic Winter Games. That has been the American’s plan all winter: Get to the Games in good health, even if it means missing out on opportunities to get closer to the all-time wins record. It’s the same reason she chose to not start in the final race in Val d’Isere, France, in December.
Every choice Vonn makes moves her closer to that goal. This weekend in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, she chose to charge. Not only is Vonn very experienced on the track, having started there nearly 40 times, but the track was in great shape and blue skies made for perfect conditions. She took her 12th victory at the venue on Saturday.
“I love racing here,” Vonn said. “I had my first podium here, and you know, I was definitely disappointed with my result yesterday with that big mistake, but today was a great run. Clean, solid, very happy with my skiing, and this gives me a lot of confidence going forward, going into the Olympics.”
The American now has 79 World Cup victories to her name, seven away from matching Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time wins record. Vonn does her best to tune out discussion of records to focus on the skiing.
“I think it was the same when I broke Anne Marie Moser-Proell’s record here,” Vonn shared. “I think it was three years ago today that I broke the record, and everyone had been talking about it for so long, but you know, for me, I just have to focus on the skiing. I love what I do. I have to stay relaxed and enjoy it. Because if I’m thinking about the wins then I’ll never get them.”
With this win, she becomes the first person in history to win a World Cup in 15 consecutive calendar years. Vonn, who is 33 years old, also has the honor of being the oldest winner of a ladies’ World Cup downhill race, overtaking the mark held by Elisabeth Goergl when she won in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in 2014 at 32 years and 325 days.
The American superstar had good company on the podium. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein skied to second place, her second downhill podium of the season and the 13th of her career.
“It was a challenging race as it always is in Cortina,” Weirather said. “It’s a high speed course, so you have to really focus and the snow is kind of aggressive.”
Jacqueline Wiles of the U.S. Ski Team landed in third. It was particularly special for Vonn and Wiles to share the podium because Vonn has personally helped fund part of Wiles career through the Lindsey Vonn Foundation and served as a mentor to her teammate and competitor.
“It means a lot now to be on the podium with her,” Wiles said. “She’s done a lot to help me get to this point. She’s a great friend and role model, and I’m super thrilled to be on the podium with her.”
Wiles skied to the podium one other time in her a career–a third place finish in the Altenmarkt-Zauchensee downhill last season. In her interview on The Inside Line, Wiles recalled how Vonn helped her celebrate the biggest milestone in her career so far. In Cortina, the duo got to celebrate success together.
“…And also, it was a great day having Jackie on the podium,” Vonn shared. “I kind of am her mentor. I gave her money to help get her onto the World Cup, so I’m really, really proud of her. It’s been a great weekend so far. Hopefully tomorrow is even better.”
It was a solid day for the rest of their teammates. Mikaela Shiffrin landed in seventh place, the first time she has not been on the podium since skiing to 20th in the St. Moritz super-G in December. Breezy Johnson and Alice Mckennis finished in 11th and 16th, respectively. Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross skied to 25th and 26th. Alice Merryweather finished in 42nd.
Racing action continues in Cortina d’Ampezzo on Sunday with super-G.
- Lindsey Vonn (USA) – Head / Head / Head
- Tina Weirather (LIE) – Head / Head / Head
- Jacqueline Wiles (USA) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Ramona Seibenhofer (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
- Michelle Gisin (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR) – Head / Head / Head
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Stephanie Venier (AUT) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Johanna Schnarf (ITA) –Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Cornelia Huetter (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|45||50||465098||CAILL Ania Monica||1995||ROU||1:42.76||+6.28||81.36||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|