Lindsey Vonn completes first downhill race

2:20 PM, Dec 6, 2013   |    comments
Dec 3, 2013; Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada; Lindsey Vonn of the United States competes during women's downhill training for the FIS alpine skiing World Cup at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta - After waiting 10 months for her return to competitive skiing, Lindsey Vonn probably didn't mind having to wait another hour.

In her first race back since tearing the ACL and medial collateral ligament in her right knee, the extreme cold and fog delayed the start of the race. If Vonn was cold, her performance didn't show it on Friday. She crossed the finish line 14th fastest out of 18 skiers in the first day of the downhill competition. Several of the top women were racing behind her.

Vonn skipped Thursday's training run because she said she accomplished her goal of skiing hr race line the previous day. "And if I can accomplish that in one run, I don't need a second run," Vonn said. "I know this course so well. I don't need to take a bunch of runs for it."

After partially tearing her right ACL two weeks ago, Vonn said she will wear a brace throughout the season. "It's really lightweight. It's definitely not aerodynamic, it's going to slow me down a little bit, but I just have to ski that much better and I can do that," she said before the race.

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park, the race has been dubbed "Lake Lindsey" with good reason. Of her 59 career World Cup race victories, 14 have come at Lake Louise. Last season she won both downhills and the super-G, recording a hat trick at the Alberta resort for the second consecutive year after winning all three races in 2011. Last year she also unsuccessfully petitioned the sport's international governing body to race the men's World Cup at the site.

Vonn has said all along that competing in Sochi is the goal, but World Cup history is also in reach. The USA's most successful female ski racer is three wins from equaling the World Cup women's record of 62 held by Austria's Annemarie Moser-Proell.

The extreme cold actually is good for course's condition, but not so great for the skiers. In the previous two days of training, the skiers protected their faces with tape, some comically drawing mustaches above their lips. American Julia Mancuso went for the outlaw look. She tied a scarf around her face, as if ready to rob the Bank of Canada.

After her training run on Thursday, Mancuso stopped briefly near the finish line to talk to reporters but had to cut herself off. "I would answer more but I'm cold," she said after about a minute and a half.

American Laurenne Ross said adjustments are necessary in such weather. "It changes a lot," she said. "It's hard to get your muscles warmed up enough, it kind of makes you a little bit stiff. It's really hard to trust yourself when you're that cold. It also makes your boots stiffer so it kind of changes your boots a little bit. People have one pair of stiff boots and one pair of soft boots. You have to go in soft boots if it's really cold. It's really hard to get warm enough."

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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