Lindsey Vonn gets 79th career World Cup win at Cortina downhill

American skier moves within 7 victories of all-time record

Lindsey Vonn gets 79th career World Cup win at Cortina downhill
Lindsey Vonn recorded her 12th win in Cortina and 79th in her career, moving her within seven of Ingemar Stenmark's record 86 World Cup victories. © Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images
By Andrew Dampf

Lindsey Vonn amped up her Olympic preparations by winning a World Cup downhill by a large margin on Saturday.

The American clocked 1 minute, 36.48 seconds on the sun-drenched Olympia delle Tofane course for a 0.92-second advantage over Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein.

"I know what I'm capable of. This weekend just proves it," Vonn said. "No matter what happens from here to the Olympics I'll be confident. I have a good feeling on my skis. I feel balanced, in control and solid. This weekend was really important for me.

"This is just the momentum that I was hoping for and that I was planning on going to the Olympics," added Vonn, who celebrated by riding an electric bicycle — a gift from the local organizing committee — around on the snow in the finish area.

Vonn's U.S. teammate Jacqueline Wiles finished third, 0.98 behind, for her second career podium result.

It was Vonn's record 12th win in Cortina and 79th in her career, moving her within seven of Ingemar Stenmark's record 86 World Cup victories.

Vonn's focused on Olympics

"My focus right now is so much on the Olympics that I haven't really thought about it that much this season," Vonn said of Stenmark's record. "After the Olympics, that will be my No. 1 priority again and I'll try to rack up as many wins as possible before I retire."

After a couple of crashes and a jarred back at the start of this season, Vonn had been holding back or sitting out races when conditions were difficult due to fog or ice.

So how will she handle it if the conditions for the Olympic downhill on Feb. 21 are not perfect?

"When I get to Korea there will be no holding back no matter what the conditions are. This is what I've been working for for the last eight years," said Vonn, who missed the 2014 Sochi Games due to a series of knee injuries.

"The tactics leading into the Olympics are so that I can get to the Olympics healthy — not that I'm afraid to push myself in bad conditions," Vonn added. "I know what I'm capable of and if I choose to ski aggressively I know what I can do. It's all or nothing in Korea."

Sofia Goggia of Italy, the winner of the past two downhills, lost control landing a jump in the Tofana Schuss and made a quick recovery but did not finish.

Vonn clocked 129.8 kph (80 mph) in the schuss, an imposing and narrow chute between two huge rock outcrops on the top section of the course.

"It was good, clean skiing today. I didn't make any big mistakes like yesterday," said Vonn, who finished second in Friday's downhill after an error midway down.

"And it was just really fun to race. It was a beautiful day — normal, perfect Cortina sunshine — and perfect conditions," Vonn added. "So it made me really happy just to be out there on the mountain today."

At 33, Vonn became the oldest woman to win a World Cup downhill, beating the previous mark established by Elisabeth Goergl, an Austrian who was 32 when she won in 2014.

Shiffrin extends World Cup lead

Mikaela Shiffrin finished seventh and extended her lead in the overall World Cup standings ahead of Goggia to a massive 907 points.

Goggia still leads the downhill ranks, seven points ahead of Weirather and 13 ahead of Shiffrin.

Wiles was on course to finish second — trailing Vonn by just 0.30 seconds at the penultimate checkpoint — but then drifted too wide on a turn and lost a big chunk of time.

Still, Wiles was especially honoured to share the podium with Vonn, who supported her financially when she was getting started on the circuit.

Wiles is also an ambassador for the Lindsey Vonn foundation.

"She's done a lot for my career and she gave me an amazing course report and pumped me up through the radio before my run," Wiles said. "I'm really grateful she's such a great friend and role model I have to learn from."

A super-G on Sunday rounds out the racing in Cortina before the circuit moves to nearby San Vigilio di Marebbe for a giant slalom on Tuesday. Then there are two more weekends of racing before the Pyeongchang Olympics begin Feb. 9.