Lindsey Vonn battled through fog and soft snow conditions to win a demanding downhill Sunday to match Annemarie Moser-Proell’s 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins, capping a comeback from two serious knee surgeries.
She clocked a time of 1 minute 39.61 seconds down the Olympia delle Tofane course to finish 0.32 ahead of Elisabeth Goergl of Austria.
“It was just a tough day out there. The snow was a little bit soft but I did the best that I could,” Vonn said. “I fought really hard and to have a 62nd win with my whole family here pretty much – I’m missing some brothers and sisters – it just feels amazing and it’s such a special day.”
Vonn’s dad, mother, step dad, step mum and younger sister Laura attended the race. Family and members of Vonn’s coaching staff put on celebratory T-shirts that said, “Congratulations to our golden Lindsey! Awesome!”
Daniela Merighetti of Italy was third, 0.54 back.
Vonn can break Moser-Proell’s record in a super-G scheduled for Monday. Moser-Proell, an Austrian great, established the record between 1970 and 1980.
Swedish standout Ingemark Stenmark holds the men’s record of 86 wins.
“I feel like everyone has been talking about [the record] so much and it’s a little bit frustrating because I just want to focus on the skiing,” Vonn said. “I felt it was just getting ahead of the actual skiing. I’m happy that the story is hopefully behind me now so I can just move forward and continue to do my best and hopefully get a lot more wins.”
Vonn came down with the No.20 bib and had a nervous wait when Goergl came down with the No.22 bib and was faster at the first two checkpoints. But she couldn’t keep up with Vonn on the final turns.
“I wasn’t very fast on the top. I don’t really know what I did exactly. But I maintained my speed on the bottom and that’s where I won the race,” Vonn said.
It was Vonn’s third win this season – all in downhill – and the eighth of her career in Cortina.
Vonn was on track to smash the record two years ago before she crashed at the 2013 world championships in Schladming, Austria, and tore up her right knee. She attempted to return for last year’s Sochi Olympics but re-injured her knee in Val d’Isere, France, in December, 2013, forcing her to sit out the games.
Vonn has won 32 downhills, 20 super-Gs, three giant slaloms, two slaloms and five combined races.
Not included in those numbers is Vonn’s gold medal in downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, or her golds in downhill and super-G at the 2009 worlds in Val d’Isere.
Moser-Proell won 36 downhills, 16 giant slaloms, three slaloms and seven combined races.
The super-G was introduced two years after Moser-Proell retired.