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Svindal gets why Vonn is coming back for one last shot at Lake Louise

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December 1, 2018, 12:00 am
aksel lund svindal

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal talks to reporters after finishing third in Friday’s Birds of Prey downhill (David O. Williams photo).

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal knows what it’s like to come back from injury to take on one of your favorite ski-racing venues. The Norwegian superstar suffered a terrible injury at Beaver Creek in 2007, only to come back and win twice on the Birds of Prey track in 2008.

So the four-time Olympic medalist totally understood Lindsey Vonn’s decision on Friday to return for one more World Cup season after a recent knee injury cost her the chance to race this weekend at Lake Louise, Canada, where she has won 18 times in her illustrious career.

Vonn had previously said this would be her last season, but a training crash tweaked a knee and caused her to miss this season’s Lake Louise speed races, where EagleVail’s Mikaela Shiffrin finished 9th on Friday. Vonn said she’ll return next year for a Lake Louise swansong.

Vonn also still hopes to tie or surpass Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time World Cup victory record of 86 career wins. She currently sits on 82 wins, with nearly 22 percent of them coming at Lake Louise – a venue in Alberta sometimes dubbed “Lake Lindsey.”

“She has one target — that’s very obvious — and Lake Louise for her is a really good chance to get some victories,” Svindal said Friday at Beaver Creek, where he had just finished third in the Birds of Prey downhill. “She has this one thing that’s like a crazy driver for her.”

Svindal has won six times at Beaver Creek, or more than 17 percent of his 35 career wins. On Friday, he missed a seventh win by less than a 10th of a second. Beat Feuz of Switzerland won with a time of 1 minute, 13.59 second, followed by countryman Mauro Caviezel in second at 1:13.66, and Svindal in third at 1:13.67 — just .08 back.

For the U.S. Ski Team, Steve Nyman and Bryce Bennett tied for 9th at 1:14.15.

“I think it as awesome that we tied; it’s so cool,” Nyman said. “The Twin Towers, man. He’s my little, protégé, but he’s not so little.”

In fact, both American racers are among the tallest on the circuit, but Nyman, 36, is 10 years older than Bennett. Nyman, who’s stood on podiums (top 3) at Beaver Creek but never won on the Birds of Prey, has battled back from numerous injuries in recent years.

The Birds of Prey races, free and open to the public, continue on Saturday with the super-G scheduled for 11 a.m. Go the Vail Valley Foundation website for more details.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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