Vail’s Lindsey Vonn completed her long and winding comeback from a 2013 knee injury Friday with a solid eighth-place finish in a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.
Slovenia’s Tina Maze won the race, continuing her early-season hot streak, and three other Americans joined Vonn in the top nine, including Bend, Oregon’s Laurenne Ross (4th), Squaw Valley’s Julia Mancuso (7th) and Mammoth’s Stacey Cook (9th).
“I think I skied really well on the technical parts,” said Vonn, who hasn’t raced on the World Cup circuit in nearly a year. “I definitely could clean up some turns for tomorrow [Saturday’s second downhill], but I think it was a really solid start. I’m happy with it. I felt good out there.
“There was some soft snow on the track because it was snowing today, but I think in general everything held up pretty well and I’m just hoping to push it a little bit more tomorrow.”
Vonn is a 14-time winner at Lake Louise and remains stuck on an American record 59 career World Cup wins, four shy of the all-time women’s record.
On the men’s side, Utah’s Steven Nyman was a little over a half a second off the pace of Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud Friday on the Birds of Prey downhill course at Beaver Creek. Nyman finished third, just two-hundredths of a second behind second-place finisher Beat Feuz of Switzerland.
“This hill is about throwing your body down the hill and searching for speed the whole time,” Nyman said. “I kept thinking, ‘Project myself down the hill, project myself down the hill, stay over my skis.’ I made one mistake in the Pumphouse area, but overall I was super-clean and super-tight in the air. I nailed the line over the Abyss, too. It’s so cool to fly off all those jumps.
“You have to be a well-rounded skier here. There’s gliding, jumps, technical steeps. You have to do everything to get on the podium. Jansrud nailed it today. I was talking to him and he said, ‘I don’t think I’ve had a more perfect run.’ That’s pretty cool to hear from him.”
Jansrud has now won three consecutive speed events to start the season, including a downhill and super-G last weekend at Lake Louise. He’ll try to make it four straight in the super-G at Beaver Creek on Saturday – a race that starts at 11 a.m. and is free and open to the public.
Californian Travis Ganong made it a very strong day for the Americans with a fifth-place finish. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety, not typically a speed-event standout, finished in the points in 28th.