Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vonn burned by her own doing

 •  Ohno gets historic 7th

By Linda Robertson

WHISTLER, British Columbia Perhaps it was a bad omen. Lindsey Vonn was busy baking banana bread the day before her super-G race but she forgot about the last loaf in the oven while she watched the men's super-G on TV.

"It came out looking like charcoal," said Vonn's husband and coach, Thomas.

And yesterday, Vonn got burned by the challenging and changeable super-G course, not to mention her opponents. Lacking her usual killer finishing kick, Vonn also beat herself. She finished third in her last best chance for another gold medal at the 2010 Olympics.

Vonn held back ever so slightly on the lower section of Franz's Run. Her bullet-shaped tucks weren't as aerodynamically tight. Her aggressively plotted line wandered.

Vonn may be the fastest woman on snow nine days out of 10 but she was not yesterday. Andrea Fischbacher bumped her out of first with a time of 1:20.14, then Slovenia's Tina Maze bumped her to bronze by the length of a ski tip.

It was the final women's speed event of the Olympics. Vonn's medal collection one gold, one bronze may be complete.

"Once I passed the tricky section I think I just let off the gas pedal a little bit," Vonn said. "I wasn't as clean on the bottom part and that's where I lost the race. I got content. Sometimes you're in a good rhythm and you have to push past your comfort zone."

After months of hyperventilating about Vonn's chances of winning multiple gold medals, it's time to exhale. The golden girl of the "Vonncouver Games" hasn't lost any of her luster. She was as sunny as ever on a bluebird day in Whistler.

But barring surprise finishes in the giant slalom and slalom the technical events she will leave Canada with one gold.

She got victory in the downhill, the glamour event. She was in first after the downhill race of super combined, but tripped in the slalom and didn't finish.

"I can't be too disappointed," said Vonn, 25, who pushed the U.S. ski team's record medal count to seven.

The comparisons to Michael Phelps were reaches, an exaggerated sales pitch for the 2010 Games. No one who knows anything about skiing expected her to sweep five events.

Winter and Summer Olympics are different species. Winter has the weather variable that is not a factor in most marquee Summer Games sports, such as swimming and gymnastics.

"It's not a swimming pool," Thomas said. "To say Lindsey would win five golds was like saying, 'I will win the $40 million jackpot.' "

Vonn won't win the Olympic lottery, but she has won many new fans to ski racing. Twelve days ago a shin injury caused her so much pain she wasn't even sure she could race. It's a pity she didn't win three golds in her best events given her world dominance, but not a failure.