Mistake, not shin, costs Vonn

Lindsey Vonn loses a ski and heads off the course after catching a tip on a gate on the super-combined slalom run.

Associated Press

Lindsey Vonn loses a ski and heads off the course after catching a tip on a gate on the super-combined slalom run.

WHISTLER, British Columbia — For all the worry about her famously injured shin, it was a common skiing mistake that ended Lindsey Vonn's bid for a second gold medal in two days.

Though Vonn's bruised right leg was "killing me," she said she simply failed to get her ski around a right-hand gate and fell in the slalom run of the super-combined Thursday.

"The shin wasn't the reason why I didn't finish the race," Vonn said. "It was just because I hooked a tip, and that happens in ski racing all the time. I just wish it wasn't at the Olympic Games."

Germany's Maria Riesch won, helping to atone for her failure to challenge Vonn, her best friend and biggest rival, in Wednesday's downhill. Riesch had a total time of 2 minutes, 09.14 seconds in the downhill and slalom runs to beat Julia Mancuso of the United States by 0.94 seconds.

Mancuso got her second silver after being runnerup to Vonn in the downhill. It was Mancuso's third career medal — she won gold in the giant slalom in 2006 — making her the first American woman with three in Alpine skiing and tying her with Bode Miller for most for any American in the sport.

Sweden's Anja Paerson took the bronze, 1.05 behind Riesch. Her sixth career medal tied old rival Janica Kostelic of Croatia for most by a woman in the sport.

Vonn, who once worried about being able to ski at all in these Olympics, was fastest in the morning downhill but visibly in pain after the twisting slalom run on an icy, bumpy course pressed her boot against the shin.

Last among the leaders to ski in the afternoon slalom, she was 0.07 seconds ahead of Reisch's pace at the first checkpoint but fell behind by 0.18 on the bottom half of the course. She then straddled a gate, and the ski flipped off before she fell forward.

Vonn said she struggled to find energy less than 24 hours after an emotionally exhausting victory in her signature event.

"It was a long, long day (Wednesday), and I didn't get as much rest as I was hoping for," she said. "Especially with my shin, I need a little bit more time and therapy to try to get it to feel better."

Riesch, who trailed Vonn by 0.33 after the downhill run, punched the air and pressed her hands to her goggles in delight when she saw her time.

"Today everything was fitting together," she said. "That's what I said before these Olympics Games — for winning a gold medal, everything must be perfect that day for you. (Thursday), everything was perfect for me."

Mancuso moved up a place after being third-fastest in the downhill. She jumped for joy after finishing her slalom run then fell back on the snow, skis in the air.

"When I realized that I got another medal, it was just this crazy … it's that moment you wait for as any athlete," she said.

Mancuso on Wednesday defends the giant slalom title.

Hip surgery after the 2006 Olympics led to back problems that made Mancuso something of an afterthought in the past four years. Over the past two World Cup seasons, Vonn has 18 victories and two overall titles. Mancuso hasn't won a World Cup race since March 2007.

But as she put it, "I just came to these Olympics trying to put the past behind me and rip it up."

Mistake, not shin, costs Vonn 02/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 11:22pm]

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