Six wins. That’s all that separates Lindsey Vonn from the record of 86 World Cup victories set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark that has stood for the last 29 years. Once thought untouchable, Vonn now has one hand on Stenmark’s record and is poised to rewrite the history books once again after winning her 80th career World Cup on Saturday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Vonn bested second-place finisher Sofia Goggia of Italy in the downhill by a scant 0.02 seconds on a shortened course due to having to also run a training run that morning. The normal training runs scheduled for Thursday and Friday were both cancelled due to weather and course conditions, forcing organizers to run a morning training run and a shortened race in the afternoon.
After a solid runner-up finish in the training run, Vonn was poised for the win later in the day.
“It was a little bit more difficult with the shorter start,” explained Vonn after the race. “I had to make sure I was pushing the line on the top, but on the bottom I executed the line that I inspected. I carried the speed really well down to the bottom and I skied better I think in the race than I did in the training run. All-in-all, it was a solid run. I know I can ski better for the race tomorrow and I’m probably going to have to because Sofia is gonna be chasing after me but it was a really good day and I’m really happy.”
After a tough series in Cortina that saw Goggia take a win and two crashes in the three-race weekend, the hard-charging Italian was all smiles in the finish despite losing out on another win by such a slim margin. Goggia also currently leads the downhill standings by 43 points over Vonn.
“I’m always not so happy when we have a lower start in downhill because I really do like to ski two minutes or however long it lasts.” she said. “You really have to use all your nerves and start really well even though I have some difficulties because I’m not so coordinated. I’m happy about my skiing, it’s really fun to have this rivalry with Lindsey. I really like it and I hope that tomorrow I can give her those two hundredths.”
Third place went to Austria’s Cornelia Huetter as she continues her comeback from a knee injury suffered a year ago. Huetter also had a strong training result and used that momentum to reach the podium in the afternoon.
“After the tough weekend in Cortina I have my speed again,” Huetter said. “I’m really self-confident also from the first training. I like the track and I have the pressure on the skis again and that makes me happy. It’s really good to be on the podium again, the third in my comeback season, so that is really cool.”
Narrowly missing the podium in fourth was young rising American star Breezy Johnson. Johnson’s previous best World Cup finish was a 10th place from earlier this season in Lake Louise. Johnson charged to the fastest time in the training run and knew exactly what she had to do in order to match her fast skiing from the morning.
“It felt great,” an excited Johnson shared in the finish. “I won the training run so expectations went pretty high and I really just wanted to ski really well and as well as I did in the training run. After that training run I knew what to do and I knew that I just had to ski as clean as I could and do what I did with more of a race mentality. I think I did a pretty good job of that, it was a little bit of a lowered start so I’m hoping that tomorrow with the higher start I can maybe even do a little better. It was great for what I was expecting and coming into this is awesome.”
Unfortunately for the American team, Jaqueline Wiles took a hard fall after running a late line and trying to hold on before being catapulted out of the course. Wiles was helicoptered off of the hill with an unspecified injury and her current condition is unknown.
“I’ve been texting her and we’re trying to figure out the situation right now and trying to get her set up as best as we can, get her the best doctors,” Vonn said of her teammate. “I’m praying so hard that she’s not injured but it doesn’t look good. I’m mad at her, I’m going to tell her that, she should have just pulled out but she’s a fighter and she tried to finish and that’s what makes her special and that’s why I always supported her because she’s like me.”
For the rest of the Americans, Alice McKennis finished in 17th, Stacey Cook finished 22nd, and Alice Merryweather finished 37th. Laurenne Ross also did not finish after sliding out on a steep turn but skied to the bottom on her own and was uninjured.
The women will race one more downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Sunday, Feb. 4.
- Lindsey Vonn (USA) – Head/Head/Head
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Cornelia Huetter (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Breezy Johnson (USA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Anna Veith (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Lara Gut (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Tina Weirather (LIE) – Head/Head/Head
- Raghnild Mowinckel (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Nadia Fanchini (ITA) – Dynastar/Lange/Look
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|