Canada's Marie-Michèle Gagnon wins gold in World Cup combined
American Lindsey Vonn returns to action a day after knee fracture
Canada's Marie-Michèle Gagnon won a women's World Cup combined event in Soldeu, Andorra, on Sunday, while American star Lindsey Vonn returned to action a day after suffering a knee fracture.
Gagnon, from Lac-Etchemin, Que., roared back from 10th place after the super-G run on the Aliga course, posting the second-fastest time in the slalom, capturing gold in a combined time of one minute, 43.66 seconds.
"I had pretty good super-G run yesterday and I had a solid run today so I had a good start position for the slalom," Gagnon said. "I am surprised to win. I was hoping for a podium because I knew I would have a good chance here."
It's the fourth World Cup medal of Gagnon's career, and her second combined gold.
Switzerland's Wendy Holdener was second, while Anne-Sophie Barthet of France took bronze.
American Lindsey Vonn posted the fastest time in the first run, one day after fracturing her left knee in a super-G crash.
"Yesterday, I thought I wouldn't be able to ski today," Vonn said. "But there was a small chance and I believed in it. With this mindset, a lot is possible. I am a fighter. Many think it's just drama, but that's nonsense. I have pain but I can fight. I always give everything."
Wearing braces on both knees, Vonn posted only the 23rd-fastest time in the slalom run to finish 1.93 seconds behind Gagnon, finishing 13th overall.
"There were two turns where I felt I was on the limit but I tried to ski a bit rounder to lower pressure on my left knee," she said. "On the bottom part I was really fast. It's incredible. I can only say it all came from the heart."
"Drained my knee a few times and it's feeling a little better. Going to go up on the hill and see how it feels," she wrote.
Vonn inspected the course for the first leg and made one run on the warmup course before deciding to actually start. She trailed the then leader, American teammate Laurenne Ross, by 0.36 halfway down the course but won by more than a half-second on Ross with a strong finish.
Vonn screamed for joy after finishing, holding both arms and ski poles up in the air while waving to the spectators.
In the slalom, Vonn quickly lost her 0.96-second advantage over Gagnon. Knowing that Gut had skied out and thus failed to score points, Vonn held back and tried to avoid risks.
"I first thought I would give it all and risk everything," she said. "But when Lara was out, I decided to ski a bit more careful, to make sure I get to the finish. Maybe I was a bit too cautious but I've made really important points."
Gagnon's Canadian teammates Candace Crawford and Marie-Pier Prefontaine finished ninth and 28th overall, respectively.
With files from The Associated Press