CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Lindsey Vonn is getting tired of nearly wiping out. She simply wants to ski cleanly again.
The Olympic downhill champion and three-time defending overall World Cup winner almost went down again in the opening downhill training session for this weekend’s three speed races in Cortina. The event starts with a super-G on Friday.
“Because of my training this summer I’ve been able to make really incredible recoveries, but I would really prefer not to have to,” Vonn said. “But that’s ski racing. When you’re trying to push the limits and trying to ski fast, you make mistakes. And if you can recover fast, you can still stay in the hunt. But I hope I can get some clean runs down and try not to make any major mistakes.”
In the circuit’s previous downhill in Zauchensee, Austria, Vonn skied well off course on a sharp right turn but managed to recover and win.
She also won despite a wobble near the top of her downhill run last month in Val d’Isere, France. Before that, Vonn went flying off the course before recovering in Lake Louise, Alberta. That mistake cost her the victory and gave away a precious win to German rival Maria Riesch.
Vonn is trailing Riesch, her friend and rival, by 196 points in the overall World Cup standings.
In Wednesday’s opening downhill training session, Vonn was fastest through the first checkpoint before doing the splits and nearly tumbling head over toes. She finished 29th.
“Yesterday was pretty sketchy,” she said. “I almost went over the tips of my skis going like 75-80. … I was literally a millimeter from hooking my tip in downhill, which is not a good plan ever. So that was definitely scary, and I’m trying not to do that again.”
When she skis clean in downhill and super-G, Vonn has been nearly unbeatable. She’s finished on the podium in 15 consecutive super-G’s, including world championships and Olympics. In the downhill, she has seven consecutive podiums finishes.
Vonn skied without any problems in Thursday’s second training session and finished first with a massive 1.37-second gap ahead of teammate Julia Mancuso.
“Today was a better run,” Vonn said. “I was clean from top to bottom and no big mistakes, so I’m going to try to do that in the race, and hopefully it will go as well as today.”
Vonn enters this weekend relying on the experience of her eight career podium finishes in Cortina, which includes three wins. Last year, Vonn swept the downhill and super-G on the Olympia delle Tofane course.
“It’s definitely one of my favorite stops. It’s always fun to come back,” she said. “It’s one of those courses where you know it like the back of your hand, and you don’t have to really think twice about the course. I know what to do and I trust myself, so it makes it fun to push the limits and see what you’re capable of doing.”
Mancuso has also found success in Cortina, with one victory and five runner-ups, although her last podium finish came three years ago.
Mancuso started this season with three top-six finishes in speed races in Lake Louise, but has struggled since. She finished 16th in the downhill and super-G in Zauchensee.
“Of course, I want to get some more podiums,” Mancuso said. “But we’re halfway through right now, and I think I did everything I could this summer. So I just have to ski fast and hopefully results will come, because I can’t control how other people are skiing.”
Riesch is satisfied with her season, which has included three wins and six runner-up finishes.
“My season is going absolutely perfect so far, and I’m just going to keep on trying to do my best every single race,” she said.