Vonn clinches 3rd World Cup overall title 

Lindsey Vonn finished with a fitting flourish, the perfect way to cap a nearly perfect season, one chock full of victories, medals, trophies — and injuries.

Now the American is looking forward to some well-earned time away from the slopes.

A day after bruising her right knee in a crash, and skiing with her broken right pinkie protected by a green molded cast, Vonn clinched her third consecutive World Cup overall title Friday with a U.S.-record 33rd career race win in a super-G at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

"My body is completely — pretty much completely — broken," she said.

Vonn described the pep talk she gave herself Friday this way: "I said, 'OK, you've done this before. You've dealt with this pain. Just go out there and do your best.' It was, for me, the best way to end such an amazing season."

Amazing, indeed.

The list of accomplishments goes on and on:

—11 World Cup race victories in 2009-10, breaking Vonn's own American record of nine, set last season;

—her downhill, super-G and super-combined championships make Vonn the first American to win three World Cup discipline titles in a single season;

—Bode Miller held the U.S. mark of 32 career World Cup wins until Vonn tied it in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, last weekend, then surpassed it Friday, and she is still only 25 years old;

—Vonn is only the fifth woman in World Cup history with three overall titles in a row, and the first to do it since Petra Kronberger of Austria in 1990-92.

"To dominantly win three in a row is pretty impressive," said Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah, who claimed the World Cup giant slalom season title by tying for third in the men's race Friday in Germany.

Oh, and let's not forget the downhill gold medal and super-G bronze Vonn won at the Vancouver Games last month, despite a badly bruised right shin she feared might keep her out of the Olympics altogether.

Add that to her litany of recent injuries, including a banged-up arm in December, a battered back and that broken finger from a crash at the Olympics, and the leg she hurt in a fall Thursday.

"I'm happy to be done with the year and finally get a chance to heal my body," Vonn said, "because I'm definitely hurting after this long season."

She'll skip Saturday's World Cup slalom and head home to Vail, Colo., to get everything checked out by a doctor and start resting her right knee, which needs about four to six weeks to get better.

Vonn was told to stay off skis for the next several months, but she might allow herself the treat of trying out the trail on Vail Mountain that was recently renamed in her honor.

"I can walk," she said, "but I can't do much else."

Well, except ski — and do so better than any other woman in the world right now.

Yet Vonn is already thinking about how she can improve, how she can "keep trying to ski fast; ski faster and faster."

For one thing, there are the two events in which she did not win the World Cup discipline title this season: giant slalom and slalom.

"There's a lot that still motivates me. I always try to improve upon every season. It's going to be definitely hard to improve on this season, but looking forward, I'm going to try and improve my GS and slalom," she said. "That definitely lacked this year, and I know I can pick up some slack on those two."

There is time for that later in 2010.

For the moment, though, Vonn is entertaining other plans.

"We're going to go on vacation for a long, long time," she said with a snicker. "I'm not sure where, but someplace with a beach."

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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