One fi­nal race, medal for Vonn

Bronze pads record-break­ing ca­reer

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Sports -

ARE, Swe­den — Lind­sey Vonn walked off with her ca­reer haul of medals in hand, the clink­ing metal al­most weigh­ing her down.

Or was it the knee braces and sup­port rods in­side her many bro­ken bones?

Re­gard­less, it was a re­minder of what Vonn sym­bol­izes — an ath­lete who bat­tled back from one ma­jor in­jury af­ter an­other to win more ski races than any other woman.

Five days af­ter Vonn crashed in su­per-G and three months af­ter tear­ing a lig­a­ment in her left knee, Vonn won the bronze medal in the world cham­pi­onship down­hill Sun­day in the fi­nal race of her ca­reer.

“I’m lit­er­ally tapped out, I can’t cry any­more,” Vonn said. “It’s not an easy thing to feel your bones hit­ting to­gether and con­tinue to push through it.”

Vonn planned on re­tir­ing in De­cem­ber but moved that date up due to pain in her knees. Then came the crash, when she hit a gate midair, flew face first down the moun­tain and slammed into the safety nets.

The win brings Vonn full cir­cle: her two sil­vers at the 2007 worlds on the same course were her first ma­jor cham­pi­onship medals.

“I was weigh­ing in my mind the risk of putting it all out there, crash­ing and getting in­jured again, as op­posed to fin­ish­ing where I wanted to,” Vonn said.

As she ex­ited the fin­ish area Sun­day, Vonn em­braced Swedish great Inge­mar Sten­mark, the only skier to win more World Cup races — 86 to her 82.

“I ba­si­cally begged him to come here via text, in all caps, many ex­cla­ma­tion points,” said Vonn, who started her run wear­ing a suit with Swe­den’s col­ors to honor Sten­mark.

“I was just so grate­ful that he was there. Hon­estly, it’s a per­fect end­ing to my ca­reer.”

The third skier on the course, Vonn beamed as she came down with the fastest run to that point.

Ilka Stuhec of Slove­nia took gold, de­fend­ing her 2017 worlds ti­tle. She fin­ished 0.23 sec­onds ahead of sil­ver medal­ist Corinne Suter of Switzer­land and 0.49 ahead of Vonn.

“Not many were count­ing on [Vonn] to get the medal in her last race, which makes it even more spe­cial,” Stuhec said.

Vonn be­came the first fe­male skier to win medals at six dif­fer­ent world cham­pi­onships with her fifth down­hill medal at worlds, match­ing the record held by An­nemarie Moser-Proell and Chris­tel Cranz.

Vonn, 34, also beat her record for old­est woman to win a worlds medal.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to just chill­ing out a bit and re­cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing my mind,” she said.

As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tos

Lind­sey Vonn poses with the medals she won in the past 12 years in the fin­ish area af­ter the women’s down­hill race at the alpine ski World Cham­pi­onships Sun­day in Are, Swe­den.

Lind­sey Vonn fin­ishes the last race of her ca­reer.

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