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Vail’s Lindsey Vonn missed her 78th World Cup win by a mere seven-hundredths of a second Saturday on the 2018 Olympic downhill track at Jeongseon, South Korea, instead finishing second to Italy’s Sofia Goggia.
Goggia, who’s been enjoying a breakout season, won her first World Cup with a time of 1 minute, 38.80 seconds, and Vonn was second with a time of 1:38.87.
Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, chasing Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin for the overall World Cup title, finished third with a time of 1:39.03.
Stuhec’s podium performance earned her 60 points for third, slicing Shiffrin’s lead to 238 points.
Shiffrin is in South Korea to see the Olympic alpine venues firsthand but is not racing in the two World Cup speed events, including a super-G on Sunday. Instead she’s training on the tech venues for giant slalom and slalom races next weekend in Squaw Valley, Calif.
Vonn, still battling back from a series of injuries, turned in the two fastest training runs on the downhill course on Thursday and Friday but made some mistakes on Saturday.
“I thought [my run] was good. Definitely made some mistakes,” Vonn said, according to the International Ski Federation. “The top, just kind of got rocked by the bumps and then on the bottom, just got a little bit low in my line and lost some speed. The girls made up a couple tenths on me on the very bottom, so it’s nice to know that my skiing is getting better and I finally feel like I’m on an upward pace.”
Vonn, 32, is trying to recover from a knee injury and a broken arm last year in time to win her second downhill Olympic gold next year in South Korea, as well as claim the all-time World Cup victory mark of 86 held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn is stuck on 77.
“It’s been a struggle this year,” Vonn said of her single win this season. “But before Whistler [Olympics in 2010, where she won downhill gold], in the test events, I was second as well, so I think it’s a good position to be in and it’s a great track, so I’m excited.
“Right away, even after the first inspection, I knew that it was going to be a good track for me, and I think there’s also something to be said for not winning the test events. Sometimes that can be quite a bit of extra pressure added on unnecessarily. I think I have enough of that, so I don’t really need any more. I know where I can make up the time, and I think it definitely bodes well for next year.”
Goggia nabbed her first career win, and Stuhec just missed locking up the downhill crystal globe by three points with only one downhill race left in Aspen at the World Cup finals.
Here’s the press release from the U.S. Ski Team:
Vonn Leads Four Americans Into Top 11
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (March 4, 2017) – Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) finished second to lead four American women into the top 11 in Saturday’s downhill at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup test event for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Italy’s Sofia Goggia finally won her first World Cup event of the season after finishing on the podium nine times this season. World Cup downhill leader Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia was third. Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) was fourth. Stacey Cook (Mammoth Lakes, CA) sixth and Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR) was 11th.
Racing under brilliant blue skies and temperatures climbing into the 50s, Vonn chose bib No. 1, hoping to get down the track before the sun baked it.
“I thought it was a good decision,” said Vonn, who started bib 1 for only the second time in her career in downhill. “But it looks like the track (was) getting quite a bit faster, especially on the top, so maybe it wasn’t the fastest choice. But either way I skied it as fast as I could, and I have no regrets.”
Vonn laid down a solid run as Stuhec, who started bib 3, couldn’t match her time. However, Goggia, who narrowly missed the downhill podium two weeks ago at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, absolutely nailed the bottom of the course, erasing a 0.22 deficit to Vonn at the fifth split to take the victory by 0.07.
“I thought my run was pretty solid,” Vonn said. “I definitely made a couple mistakes, especially on top and the very bottom – I lost a couple tenths in both places. I know there is a lot of time to be had, but I think it’s better that I save my best skiing for the Olympics. Of course I would have loved to win today, but I was second as well in Vancouver in the test events before the Olympics. So if that shows any indication of what’s to come next year, hopefully that’s what it means.”
Based on two days of training and now with one race in the books, the American women like what they see in the 2018 Olympic downhill course.
“I really, really love the track,” said Cook. “I think it suits our team better than any major championships track we’ve run in a long time. The first time I saw it, I was like this is something that meets my skills a lot better than some of the World Cup courses that we’ve been on, that I’ve been struggling on.”
“The track here is pretty sweet,” Ross added. “It feels a little bit more like downhill than some of the downhills that we’ve done this year. It’s nice to have bigger turns and get up to speed.”
Stuhec had the opportunity to seal the World Cup downhill crystal globe with a top-two finish in South Korea. However, she leads Goggia, who moved into second overall, by 97 points with one downhill remaining at the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colorado. Mikaela Shiffrin, who didn’t race Saturday, but did train earlier in the week on the Jeongseon course, still leads the overall World Cup standings with 1,323 points. Stuhec is second with 1,085 points with Sunday’s super G and next week’s giant slalom and slalom at Squaw Valley, California as the final World Cup events of the season before the Finals in Aspen March 13-19.
Up next, the women race super G on the 2018 Olympic course Sunday. NBCSN will broadcast the race live at 9 p.m. EST Saturday. (South Korea is 14 hours ahead of EST.)
I thought my run was pretty solid. I definitely made a couple mistakes, especially on top and the very bottom – I lost a couple tenths in both places. I know there is a lot of time to be had, but I think it’s better that I save my best skiing for the Olympics. Of course I would have loved to win today, but I was second as well in Vancouver in the test events before the Olympics, so if that shows any indication of what’s to come next year, hopefully that’s what it means.
I’ve only started number one in downhill once. I thought it was a good decision. But it looks like the track is getting quite a bit faster, especially on the top, so maybe it wasn’t the fastest choice. But either way I skied it as fast as I could, and I have no regrets.
The track here is pretty sweet. It feels a little bit more like downhill than some of the downhills that we’ve done this year. It’s nice to have bigger turns and get up to speed. Relatively speaking, it’s not super technical. The top section is the hardest – the third gate is probably the most difficult section of the course – but after that it just flows really nicely and the snow was really good today, surprisingly considering how warm it is.
I feel good about my run. I had a couple mistakes, it wasn’t perfect, but I went for it. I’m happy with it and psyched to be here.
I think it’s really, really awesome that we can show how fast we are here. It gives all a lot of confidence, being second, fourth, sixth, 11th, or whatever and having really solid training runs has been really important for us coming into the Olympics next year. I think we’re all going to step up and hopefully ski it like we did this week.
I really, really love the track. I think it suits our team better than any major championships track we’ve run in a long time. The first time I saw it, I was like this is something that meets my skills a lot better than some of the World Cup Course that we’ve been on, that I’ve been struggling on.
I’ve been trying to use some of my park, skiercross skills on the top section. Just really feeling solid on my equipment and everything seems to be coming together here.
I still need a little bit more confidence, and I needed to get into my tuck a few more time, and I made a few mistakes that killed me today. But I’ll take my fast splits, the fun I had and the knowledge I gained out of this today.
BROADCAST AND LIVE STREAMING (times EST)
All events streaming at www.nbcsports.com/live
Saturday, Mar. 4
3:30 p.m. – women’s downhill – re-air on Universal HD
9:00 p.m. – women’s super G – LIVE on NBCSN