American Lindsey Vonn made the perfect return from a back injury and backlash at her anti-Trump comments by storming to victory in the World Cup super-G in Val d’Isere yesterday.
Vonn, 33, clocked 1min 04.86sec down a shortened OK piste in cold overcast conditions to improve her record tally of World Cup wins to 78, 28 of which have come in the super-G.
Italian Sofia Goggia was second, at 0.31sec, with Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel (+0.39) rounding out the podium.
“I think I skied well,” said Vonn. “The terrain was really bumpy and I almost fell at the end.
“I’m really happy to have had a race today,” she added after Thursday and Friday’s downhill training runs were cancelled because of high winds and heavy snow.
Starting with bib number six, Vonn was sluggish out of the start hut but laid down an extremely fast last third, topping 100kmh (60mph) as she scorched through for a dominant victory.
It was perfect timing for Vonn after finding herself in the spotlight this week after making comments about the US government and President Donald Trump which caused a massive backlash, much of it negative.
‘Tears of joy’
Tellingly, Vonn took to instagram to post a photo of her and her father.
“Tears of joy! I just did what Dad told me to do, ‘never, never give up!’ Love you dad. #LV78,” she posted.
Vonn said she had been hurt by some of the responses she had received to comments made in the interview with CNN, insisting her focus would now turn fully on the February 9-25 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
“It is hurtful to read comments where people are hoping I break my neck or that God is punishing me for being ‘anti-Trump’,” she said.
Vonn is arguably the best-known member of the US Winter Olympic team, having won four World Cup overall titles as well as Olympic downhill gold at the 2010 Games.
She missed the 2014 Olympics through injury, but has transformed herself into one of the most recognisable sportswomen in the world through savvy use of social media, high-profile sponsorship deals and even a relationship with Tiger Woods.
Back in the race, Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather departed immediately after Vonn, but crashed out as racers were hampered by fog that had rolled in.
World super-G champion Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria finished just off the podium, at 0.67sec, while Switzerland’s Lara Gut was ninth (+1.00) and defending Olympic super-G champion Anna Veith, also of Austria, was 15th (+1.35).
But French hope Tessa Worley, the two-time world giant slalom champion, finished well down the field after a horrible mistake midway down the course.