Vail’s Lindsey Vonn had a great run going out of the first start position in super-G at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Saturday (Friday in the U.S.), but made a big mistake near the bottom of the course and failed to finish in the medals.
Starting 26th, dual alpine skier and parallel giant slalom snowboarder Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic shocked the field (and NBC, which had pulled away from coverage) with a wild gold medal run of 1 minute, 21.11 seconds — just one one-hundredth of a second ahead of second-place finisher Anna Veith of Austria, who appeared to have nailed down her nation’s fourth consecutive gold medal in super-G.
Instead, Veith, starting 15th, took the silver medal with a time of 1:21.12, and Lichtenstein’s Tina Weirather, starting seventh, won the bronze with a time of 1:21.22.
Vonn, the bronze medalist in super-G at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, was crushing her run out of the unenviaable first start position only to make a huge mistake right at the bottom on the last big left-hand turn before the finish.
Vonn was late, got too low and went off into the soft snow at the bottom of the course, scrubbing way too much time on the flats before the finish. It was a great save, but NBC commentator Bode Miller estimated Vonn’s error cost her anywhere from a half a second to eight-tenths of a second.
Asked if the first start position contributed to her mistake in super-G, with no training runs and no one to watch ahead of her on the course, Vonn said it was problematic.
“Number one is always very difficult, especially in super-G,” Vonn told NBC. “I think it was a big disadvantage to be honest. I’m disappointed but I’m not upset, because all you can do is give it your best and that’s what I did.”
Vonn wound up tied for sixth with Italy’s Federica Brignone with a time of 1:21.49.
“I may not have gotten a medal today but I’m still happy with my performance,” Vonn said.
With one super-G and three downhill wins so far this season on the World Cup circuit, Vonn came into these Games healthy and on a roll.
After battling multiple injuries and missing the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Vonn was trying to become the oldest woman at 33 to ever win an Olympic medal.
The gold medalist in downhill from the 2010 Games, Vonn will now have to focus on that race on Wednesday (Tuesday night in the U.S.).
Vail’s Sarah Schleper, skiing for Mexico, wound up 6.82 seconds behind Ledecka in 41st position.