With bronze, Vail’s Lindsey Vonn cements her legacy of toughness
Lindsey Vonn got bronze in the Olympic downhill five years after her right knee was destroyed at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria.
Google “Lindsey Vonn crash 2013.” Watch the crash. Hear her screaming in pain. That was a career-ender … for most.
Vonn’s had 21 World Cup wins after that. I often say that’s a career for most because, well, it’s fact. Twenty-one wins is tied for 18th on the men’s list with Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Didier Cuche and Alexis Pinturault. It’s makes her 22nd on the women’s list, and her entire career has her atop that category already.
Sofia Goggia having a better day than Lindsey is no surprise to those who watch the World Cup regularly. They’ve gone back and forth all season. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is hot, hot, hot right now and she got the silver.
Vonn has battled through just about everything since her gold medal in 2010 — divorce, injury, nonstop chatter about whom she dates and inane responses to her political statements.
You could see all the emotion pouring out her in post-race interviews. It’s been a haul for her, and she did it, nonetheless.
Huzzah to Alice McKennis, fifth place, and Breezy Johnson (seventh). If you want to talk nasty injuries, then I saw an X-ray of McKennis’ leg on social media, and I’m still trying to erase from my retinas.
That’s three in the top 10 for the U.S. Ski Team, which is not having an overly good Olympics with racers not named Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin.
And did everyone note how NBC actually kept with the downhill through the top 30? Good job, NBC. That’s the Ester Ledecka effect, people.
Yes, we are at the punch-drunk portion of the Olympic Games, but we offer the following:
• A Russian curler has been accused of doping. That is almost like the opening line of a joke, “A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar …” But are we surprised? We said it before and we’ll say it again, the International Olympic Committee refused to take a hard line after the Sochi debacle.
It was a state-sponsored plan across multiple to use performance-enhancing drugs in 2014, and slapping the term “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” does nothing to discourage the use of PEDs. Does one have to be injecting while competing for the IOC to do something?
And how do steroids help in curling? Do they really help you sweep faster?
• Looking to the women’s combined, which is Thursday, Feb. 22, here in Colorado, Mikaela Shiffrin’s had good training for the downhill side of things. She went from being 1.97 and 1.80 seconds behind the leader in the first two runs to 0.34 back during the final training.
If she stays within 1.5 seconds after the downhill, then she probably wins the gold with the afternoon slalom run.
Look to the men’s side. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was 1.32 back after the downhill, and ended up winning by 0.23 seconds. And Shiffrin’s a better downhiller than Hirscher.
• As for Hirscher, he is having himself a terrific Olympics with gold in giant slalom and combined. He’s got a shot at a third individual gold on Thursday (Colorado time) with the men’s slalom. He would join just Tony Salier (1956), Jean-Claude Killy (1968) and Janica Kostelic (2002) with three golds in one games.
Yes, rooting for an Austrian is ski racing is like rooting for the New York Yankees or the New England Patriots, but we’re rooting for Hirscher.
• Ted … Ted … Ted … Ligety said it himself. He had an awful race in the GS. Fifteenth place isn’t good. What’s more concerning is being 4.21 seconds off the pace. The sun may be setting here.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.