Vonn 15th in Return From Injury as Siebenhofer Wins Downhill
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Lindsey Vonn made an uncharacteristic mistake midway down and finished tied for 15th in a World Cup downhill on her return from injury on Friday.
Austrian skier Ramona Siebenhofer claimed her first World Cup victory with a near-perfect run, finishing 0.40 seconds ahead of world champion Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia.
Stephanie Venier of Austria, the silver medalist at the 2017 worlds and Siebenhofer's roommate, was third, 0.46 behind, on a course that was shortened due to overnight snowfall.
Vonn, who was 1.19 behind, got bounced off her line on the upper portion of the sun-drenched Olympia delle Tofane course. The American, who needs five more wins to break the all-time record of 86 held by Swedish standout Ingemar Stenmark, shrugged her shoulders at the finish.
"I just struggled at that one icy gate," Vonn said. "I was really happy with the way I skied. I just made a really big mistake in the middle. I kind of lost grip and slid out. But otherwise I was positive and I was attacking, I was charging, and I was looking for my tuck."
Vonn was planning on opening her season in November at Lake Louise, Alberta, until she injured her left knee in training a week before her scheduled first race.
Vonn, who has a record 12 wins in Cortina, expects to improve in another downhill scheduled for Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.
"I always have the highest hope that it's easy to come back and get on the podium," Vonn said. "Things have to go my way and I didn't execute as I had hoped so therefore I didn't have the best result. But tomorrow and Sunday are two more chances and I know how to execute — I just need to actually do it."
Siebenhofer's previous best results were two third-place finishes in downhills. She was first and second in downhill training at the Pyeongchang Olympics a year ago but finished 10th in the medal race.
Siebenhofer also led training twice in Val Gardena last month before finishing third.
"Maybe the key was I was not too fast in the second training run," said Siebenhofer, who was fourth and 11th in the two Cortina training sessions. "I had to push."
Friday's race was originally scheduled for St. Anton last weekend but was moved due to excessive snowfall — nine feet (three meters) — in the Austrian resort.
Overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shifrin is sitting out the downhill races to rest but will return for the super-G.