Vonn smokin' hot in downhill

American brilliant in winning gold medal

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Lindsey Vonn of the United States celebrates following her run in the women's downhill in Whistler, B.C. Wednesday, February 17, 2010. (Al CHAREST/QMI AGENCY)

WHISTLER, B.C. — Her first Olympic victory was complete following a fabulous, fearless run and Lindsey Vonn needed one final touch.

With a handful of no-threat contestants still left, the stunning American superstar ducked behind a wall to put on some makeup.

As the glamour girl of the Games, the winning smile had to be perfect.

There were no cosmetics needed on the hill, however, as Vonn was most certainly substance over style Friday. With an aggressive and electrifying run, she proved on her sport’s biggest stage that she is much more than just a pretty face.

On a tricky, icy downhill course that tested the best skiers in the world, Vonn was smokin’ hot.

“I dreamed about what this would feel like, but it is much better in real life,” said an emotional Vonn, who fell to the snow with her arms raised in victory after her bold bid for gold was complete.

“I gave up everything for this. It means everything to me.”

In the end, it wasn’t even close as Vonn’s time of 1:44.19 was .56 better than compatriot Julia Mancuso, an eternity in this event. Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl was almost a full second slower in earning bronze.

The magnitude of the moment and the emotions of the past week clearly had an effect on Vonn, who came to the Olympics as the most-hyped American athlete and under an intense microscope.

That scrutiny only intensified when she revealed she was nursing a deep shin bruise that kept her from training for most of the past two weeks.

“It hurt the entire way down the course, but the adrenaline took away some of the pain,” said Vonn, who became the first American to win a women’s Olympic downhill. “It was probably the bumpiest course I have ever run on which is the worst thing I could have with my injury.

“It was a challenge to make it down.”

She wasn’t alone. Perhaps hampered by having just one training run after repeated weather delays, several skiers crashed spectacularly as the race went off under sunshine and brilliant blue skies.

None were more arresting than Romania’s Edith Miklos, who caused a scare and delayed Vonn’s victory celebration by more than half an hour as a dozen more contestants remained in the starter’s hut. After losing control of her skis, Miklos tumbled head over heels, careened off the course at high speed then crashed into a safety fence.

Miklos was strapped to a stretcher and airlifted off the mountain by helicopter. Another spectacular crash came from Swedish contender Anja Paerson, who got huge air out of the final jump causing her to fall and slide through the finish headfirst.

Britt Janyk was the top Canadian with a strong run to finish sixth while Emily Brydon looked far too timid in finishing 16th.

Shut out of medals at her first Olympics four years ago, Vonn has become the most dominant woman skier in the world since.

But until Wednesday, her detractors wondered if she would ever win when it mattered most for her country, her career and her image.

“I was really depressed and sad and hoping my Olympic dream was still alive,” Vonn said. “When I made it to that last jump, I said ‘I hope I did it. I hope I was fast.’

“Then I saw my name and No. 1, I was completely overwhelmed. I’ve worked my whole life for this. I’ve got my medal.”

That and so much more.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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