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Vonn Silences Doubters with Win in Val d’Isere

December 16, 2017

Given her age and recent injuries, some fans have said that Lindsey Vonn should retire and let younger athletes have their turn on the World Cup. The American responded to those comments loud and clear with a victory in the Val d’Isere super-G on Saturday, which replaced the canceled race in St. Moritz.

“I guess that I’m not a washed up old hag anyways!” she joked after her win. “I think I proved myself, and karma definitely comes back around, and I’ve got some good karma coming my way.”

This marks Vonn’s 78th World Cup victory, increasing her record for most wins for women ever and putting her eight wins away from tying Ingemar Stenmark’s elusive all-time wins record. This comes just a week after she was collapsed in the St. Moritz finish area with excruciating back pain.

“I was a little bit stiff, for sure,” the American explained. “I was kind of expecting it, honestly, to be a little bit better than it was, and I think it the first few gates you could see that in my skiing. It was a little bit stiff, but then I got into it and I really let the skis go, especially tried to push on the bottom part of the course, taking all the speed through to the finish and I almost went down there right before the finish, but thankfully I held onto it and was able to pull it out.”

Image Credit: GEPA /Mathias Mandl

Vonn’s win was not the only surprise for fans. During the U.S. speed team’s annual White Elephant gift exchange earlier in the week, Head Coach Paul Kristofic walked away with a unicorn onesie and a bet. If one of the U.S. women got on the podium, he would wear the outfit to the awards ceremony. Not one to go back on his word, Kristofic skied from his position on the hill to the finish in costume.

The U.S. team was not the only crew with something to celebrate. It was a big day for Sofia Goggia of Italy and Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway, who joined Vonn on the podium.

Goggia, who had a breakout season in 2016-17, has had a tough time getting back on the podium this year. However, in Val d’Isere, she seems to have gotten her groove back and earned second place.

“You said it,” the Italian said. “I have the groove back, but only a little bit because actually I didn’t feel so good especially on the first part of this race. I just skied down without pushing. And from the half to the bottom, I just tried to push as hard as I could, but on this snow, you never know because it’s really soft, and you have to find a good balance between pushing and letting it go. But I’m really happy. I wasn’t expecting for a podium.”

Norway’s Mowinckel stepped onto the World Cup podium for the first time in her career. The Attacking Viking was over the moon, wearing a contagious smile as she went from interview to interview. She shared that the only thing going through her head was fireworks. The Norwegian continued to say that despite challenging conditions like soft snow and flat light, she had a good feeling from the get go.

“From the start, from seeing the course and actually being surprised by how much they’d done and how good it was, I was thinking this might be a great day,” Mowinckel said. “At least, I’m giving it my best shot and we’ll take it from there, and I feel like I did that and it took me here, so I’m very happy about it.”

As the Norwegian put it, she has a track record of performing well in snowy conditions. In the giant slalom at Semmering last year, she was fourth.

“It was snowing like cats and dogs,” she recalled. “But today, its not that bad, but still though, it either has to be really, really bad for me to ski fast or kind of like now.”

Mowinckel continued to say that she hopes she’ll be able to perform well in all conditions. Fans should be on the lookout for her tomorrow as she looks to improve on her result.Aside from Vonn, a few other American women had strong performances. In her second race back from injury, Laurenne Ross skied to an eight-place result.

“Today was definitely a another big step, and I feel really good to be back and be back in race mode,” Ross said.

Alice McKennis skied to 22nd, and Ski Racing Media’s Junior of the Year Alice Merryweather scored her first World Cup points with a 24th place finish.

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