At the 2009 World Championships in Val D’Isere, France, today, US Ski Team standout Lindsey Vonn captured gold in the downhill in a time of 1:30.31 – 0.54 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Lara Gut.
A ‘first’ lady
Vonn’s downhill victory today was the first for a US woman at World Championships since Hilary Lindh took gold in 1997. She’s also the first American woman to win two World Championship golds since Andrea Mead Lawrence scored a double victory at the 1952 Oslo Olympics – which doubled as World Championships back then. (That's according to theskichannel.com.)
Setbacks fire her up
Monday’s gold makes it two for three for Ms. Vonn, who also won the championship Super-G last week. In between, she was disqualified in the combined event. But that probably only got her more revved up.
This is a girl who crashed so hard at the Torino Olympics - when she was known by her maiden name, Lindsey Kildow - that she had to be airlifted off the slopes. But she didn’t let that stop her. She got back on her skis and competed in four of five races – finishing three in the top 15.
Help from her husband
But that gutsy attitude also had its pitfalls, because – not unlike renegade Bode Miller – she was so courageous on the icy slopes that she would sometimes lose control. She credits her husband, former ski racer Thomas Vonn, with reining her in and teaching her that caution has a place in this all-out sport where competitors can reach speeds of 80 m.p.h.
That caution paid off in more-consistent results: She won the overall World Cup title in the 2007-08 season – a coveted prize awarded based on cumulative points during the season, which runs from Halloween to early spring. The Monitor noted her success at the time – click here to read that article.
Stellar 2008-09 season
This season, Vonn has been outstanding. She has finished top 10 in every single World Cup race she’s successfully completed (there were a few disqualifications), including four victories.
Vonn captured two of those wins last weekend, heading into World Championships with great momentum. All indications are that that momentum will continue.