Healthy Vonn focuses on downhill race in Italy
CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy—Lindsey Vonn doesn't usually need a boost when she's in Cortina. It's one of her favorite Italian resorts, where she's skied to five victories.
But the American star is grateful she's healthy again after being slowed by a stomach illness last week and for the chance to spend some rare quality time with her younger sister.
Now she's gearing up for a downhill on Saturday and a super-G on Sunday on the Olympia delle Tofane course.
"I feel good. I definitely have my energy and strength back, so I'm looking forward to the race," Vonn said Friday after finishing third in a windy downhill training session and leading the opening session a day earlier.
Last weekend, an ill Vonn had her four-race unbeaten streak broken in speed events. She finished fourth in a downhill in Austria and 18th in a super-G, missing the World Cup podium in that discipline for the first time in nearly three years.
Eight years ago, Vonn had her first podium result of her career in Cortina. She's added five career victories and reached the podium 10 more times.
Retired Austrian great Renate Goetschl holds the record for most wins at a single resort with 10 in Cortina. While that mark may be a few years off for Vonn, she can break a tie with Goetschl on the overall all-time wins list if she wins an event this weekend.
Vonn and Goetschl have 46 wins each, trailing only Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell (62) and Switzerland's Vreni Schneider (55).
Moving past Goetschl in Cortina would be special.
"It's definitely a special place for me," Vonn said. "I had my first podium here and it's obviously a beautiful place to be. I'm happy the snow is perfect."
What's also special for Vonn this week is visiting with her sister, Laura Kildow.
"We've been doing a lot of free skiing together," Vonn said. "I don't think I've spent this much time with her since I was probably 12 years old. It's really fun.
"We're going to Venice on Sunday night, and she's going to go off to Florence on Monday and start studying. I'm going to go back to the World Cup without her and I'm going to be sad," said Vonn, who is getting a divorce from her husband and coach Thomas Vonn.
Meanwhile, Elisabeth Goergl appears to be carrying over her form from last weekend, when she won her first World Cup downhill.
Goergl also took advantage of Vonn's physical problems when she swept both the downhill and super-G at last year's world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. At the time, Vonn was slowed my a mild concussion.
"I really want to do a good run tomorrow, bringing everything that I can and finding the right mix of technical skiing, fast skiing and smooth and on the edge when you need it," Goergl said. "That's the secret of downhill."
Defending overall winner Maria Hoefl-Riesch won last season's downhill in Cortina ahead of Americans Julia Mancuso and Vonn, although the German has struggled this season.
"My performance is not totally the same like last year, but I still feel good," Hoefl-Riesch said.
Mancuso said she was feeling in top form, and Swedish veteran Anja Paerson was also getting back into shape, having largely abandoned the technical events of slalom and giant slalom.
"I'm slowly starting to get that race person back and finding a new approach to racing again," Paerson said.