Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy) (AFP) – Lindsey Vonn warned there would be no holds barred as the US ski star’s bid to recapture the Olympic downhill title was boosted with a World Cup win in Cortina d’Ampezzo on Saturday.
The 33-year-old bounced back from a mistake which saw her miss out on the first downhill on Friday to claim one 24 hours later and become the oldest women’s World Cup winner in the discipline.
“This is just the moment I was planning on going into the Olympics,” said a delighted Vonn with the Winter Games closing in fast on February 9.
“I’m very confident I can lay my cards on the table in Pyeongchang. There will be no holding back. This is what I’ve been working for. The tactics I have is that I’m going to the Olympics healthy.
“It’s all or nothing in Korea.”
Vonn also won Super G bronze in Vancouver but missed the 2014 Sochi Games with a knee injury and is taking no risks this time.
She received an electric bike for her Cortina win but said she would give it to retiring US teammate Julia Mancuso, revealing she has a habit of falling off bicycles.
But she was fearless as she blazed down her favourite Olympia delle Tofane course in 1min 36.48sec, beating Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather by a comfortable 0.92sec margin with young American Jacqueline Wiles third at 0.98.
It was Vonn’s 12th win in the Italian dolomites — six in downhill and six in Super-G — her 40th downhill and a 79th World Cup win.
It also saw her overtake Elisabeth Goergl as the oldest winner of a women’s World Cup downhill — the Austrian was 32 years and 325 days old when she won in Altenmarkt in 2014 while Vonn turned 33 in October last year.
– ‘Going for record’ –
It was the 2010 Olympic downhill champion’s second win of the season after the Super-G in Val d’Isere last month.
And Vonn has a chance to add to her tally in Cortina in Sunday’s Super-G.
“When she’s here, she’s almost impossible to beat,” said Weirather, who claimed her fifth podium of the season.
Vonn, the first skier to record a World Cup win in fifteen consecutive years, is closing in on the all-time World Cup record of 86 victories held by Ingemar Stenmark between 1974 and 1989.
But she said her mind was more on Pyeongchang.
“My focus is so much on the Olympics I haven’t been thinking of it this season,” said Vonn, the only American woman to win the downhill title at a Winter Games.
“After the Olympics I’ll try and get closer to that record and hopefully have more wins before I retire.
“As long as I’m racing I’m going to be going for it (record).”
Former Olympic champion Mancuso, 33, bowed out in Cortina, with Vonn already comtemplating her own retirement.
But she was pleased to see how well US skiers were doing.
Mikaela Shiffrin, at just 22 years, is already an Olympic slalom champion and has 41 World Cup wins including ten this season.
Overall World Cup leader Shiffrin, however, could not follow on her third place finish Friday, trailing in seventh.
Vonn hailed the progress of the 25-year-old Wiles, who earned her second podium finish here.
“We have a really strong team right now working together really well,” said Vonn.
“Obviously Mikaela’s going to have enormous success in the future. Jackie and Alice Merryweather are really talented.
“The older crew are helping teach the other girls what we’ve learned.
“By the time I retire they will be in a good place. I’ll pass on as much knowledge as I can.”