Vonn settles for bronze and fond farewell to golden career
The moment Lindsey Vonn hockey-stopped at the base of the mountain, she knew. Glancing to Sofia Goggia, she wagged her finger in jest - part accepting that she had been vanquished by the faster woman, part understanding that her chance of the second downhill gold that could do justice to her great career had passed.
"It's sad," she said, dabbing away tears. "I'm having so much fun, I love what I do, but my body just can't take another four years."
At 33, Vonn has suffered more than most for her art. She has jarred her back, fractured her humerus, broken her ankle, torn her right knee to ribbons, and even sliced open her thumb on a broken champagne bottle while celebrating a victory in Val d'Isère.
While she negotiated this less-than-fiendish Jeongseon course unscathed, she saw that the task of holding her battered body together for Beijing 2022 was as daunting as it was unnecessary.
In downhill, the immortals measure themselves not solely by Olympic golds, but by World Cup wins. Vonn has 81 of them, more than any other woman. The only person left in her crosshairs is Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark, with 86. Come next winter, her coronation as the most decorated alpine racer of all is likely to be complete. Set against this prospect, a bronze in Pyeongchang could be put in proper perspective.
After all, Vonn has been anointed downhill champion before, in Vancouver in 2010.
"I'm proud to have competed for my country, proud to have given it my all, proud to have come away with my medal," she said. For all that third place might be anathema to a racer as fierce as Vonn, it did push her past Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister as the oldest woman to claim an Olympic alpine medal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)