USA’s Lindsey Vonn achieved an amazing performance yesterday at Whistler Creek capturing her first Olympic gold medal after a gutsy and aggressive run down the ‘Franz’ course, beating by half a second her teammate Julia Mancuso while Austria’s Lizz Görgl came in 3rd.
Sweden’s Anja Pärson, very fast until the last intermediate time, crashed in view of the finish line after losing her balance on the last treacherous jump situated a few seconds prior the finish line.
Lindsey Vonn, who won nine World Cup races prior her third Olympics, confirmed her role as a favorite despite suffering a painful injury at her right shin injured two week ago while training in Austria. She became the first athlete from the women’s US team to clinch gold in downhill since 1948.
Picabo Street won gold in Super-G at Nagano in 1998, Debbie Armstrong in giant slalom at Sarajevo, in 1984, Barbara Cochran in slalom at Sapporo in 1972 and Andrea Mead-Lawrence in giant slalom and slalom in 1952 at Oslo.
Starting in 16th position Vonn soon set the fastest intermediate time and kept her lead over Mancuso until crossing the finish line. She fell on her back on the ground after seeing that she had taken the lead and let herself being invaded by a huge emotion.
She was crying minutes later when she met her husband Thomas and during her interviews with the TV stations. “This is awesome, this means so much to me, I have worked my life for this,” she said afterwards. “I was overwhelmed after my arrival; it was one of the best feelings I ever had.”
“Today it all came to me. I fought so hard today and during the last days. Thankfully I made it down to the finish line, the course was so rough and so bumpy,” she added.
“Yesterday my injured shin was very sore, I was happy no other training run was planned. I still felt a lot of pain today - this was the bumpiest course possible. It was a true challenge to make it down, but I was very focused, and now it’s all over, it’s finished. “
“That shin hurt during my entire run, I guess the adrenaline helped me to get it done the proper way. It was for sure not the best preparation for this amazing ride. I’m thankful for winning today after all the troubles and setbacks.”
“After Anja Pärson went down, I was nervous when Maria was on course. She was pretty nervous too, she was not skiing as aggressively as usual, but we have a few more chances being on the podium together here. Maria is a fighter and she will be back.”
“I have been dreaming my whole life for this gold medal; it’s amazing. I gave up everything for this. It was tough to be injured again prior coming over here, it was so painful, especially at the beginning, that I was not sure if I could make it. I was so lucky that the race has been postponed, I got some extra time to recover a little and better prepare for that race.”
“It was a difficult race because we didn’t get proper training but on the other hand the pain at my injured leg was killing me so I needed that break. I’m proud of myself being able to put everything together and stay focused. I was really aggressive during my run yet I didn’t put a perfect run together. I kept on attacking all the time. I was very concentrated on the last turn prior that last long jump where I have lost the race two years ago. It was important to be clean there because it was really a tough jump.”
“I wish to thank all the people who helped me being ready for this day, my family, my whole team, I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. They all did a fantastic job for me.
Thomas was on the course during the race, I felt relaxed enough at the start to let him watch the competition from the side. He would have been with me at the start in case I would have needed him there but it was not necessary.”
“This is what I have been aiming for, winning an Olympic medal and now I don’t really care what’s next, it’s a huge relief. I’ll of course try my best in the coming races but I already have achieved my main goal so far.”
“The pressure for me is gone, I got what I wanted, it was for sure not so easy to make it happen. There is much weight off my shoulders. I can now be skiing more comfortably. I won my gold medal; I can now ski my way. I’ll be going home happy now.”
“It has been a tough couple of weeks for me with that injury, I thought first that my Olympic dream was crushed. Then I fought back doing therapy and taking care of my health. I remained positive. I was of course happy when the first training run was cancelled, it gave me extra time to heal my shine. “
“Somebody up there was looking for me. And the weather was great too today.”
“It’s great to have two US skiers on the podium today. It’s apparently part of a tradition that US skiers have success in Olympics as they perform well under pressure. We don’t hold anything back. We show a great free spirit and a lot of determination.”
“I hope to also become a positive role model as Picabo Street was for me when I met her at the age of 9. She certainly inspired me a lot and gave me that drive to become an Olympian. I hope to be able to pass on the same excitement to the next generation not only for racing but also for skiing in general. It would be great to have more American kids on the slopes in future and have many of them discovering what a great sport skiing is.”