Ad-Vonn-tage Lindsey 

Americans take gold, silver in downhill

The pain still is there for American skier Lindsey Vonn. She will have to deal with a deeply bruised right shin for the rest of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But Vonn long ago proved that pain is no obstacle. On Wednesday afternoon she unleashed a blistering effort in the women’s downhill at Whistler Creekside, winning her first Olympic gold medal with a time of 1 minute, 44.19 seconds.

Downhill notes

» Wednesday’s downhill was only the third time in Olympic skiing history the United States has had a gold and silver medalist in the same event.

» On a rough and bumpy course, seven different skiers did not finish their race.

» Austrian Elisabeth Goergl earned the bronze medal with a time of 1:45.65.

It was a virtuoso performance for the race favorite. But uncertainty had surrounded Vonn since she arrived in Vancouver thanks to a Feb. 2 training crash in Austria. That incident left her in excruciating pain to the point she couldn’t even put on her ski boot on Feb. 8. But the Alpine events in Vancouver have been plagued by poor weather and that gave Vonn extra time to rest her injury. She took full advantage, topping fellow American Julia Mancuso by .56 seconds. No other skier came within 1.46 seconds, a huge margin in a downhill race.

“I had no idea where I was (in the standings) while I was on the course,” said Vonn. “To get to the bottom and see my name at the top was unbelievable.”

Vonn had won five of six downhill races during the World Cup season and is the two-time defending World Cup champion. Only her good friend, German Maria Riesch, had beaten Vonn in downhill this season. But Riesch — racing after Vonn — wasn’t up to the challenge this time with an eighth-place finish (1:46.26).

Mancuso, meanwhile, pulled off a stunning performance of her own. The 25-year-old isn’t in Vonn’s league as a downhill skier. Her talents lie in the more technical slalom events, where she won gold in Torino in the giant slalom. But Mancuso blasted out of the gate with a 1:44.75 and took an early lead. It held up for six skiers until Vonn took over. Mancuso, who hadn’t won a World Cup downhill race in three years, was thrilled with her silver medal.

“This means so much to me,” Mancuso said. “I haven’t been on the podium in a year, so being back on an Olympic podium and getting a silver medal is so special. To win an Olympic medal is the biggest award you can receive in sports.”

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

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I've been given the chance to write about some of the best athletes in the world. Can't imagine a job more fun than that.
Teams I cover » Capitals, Nationals
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