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Lindsey Vonn fought through wind and snow to win Friday's downhill at Lake Louise. ((Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images))

Reigning World Cup overall and downhill champion Lindsey Vonn won Friday's season-opening downhill race in Lake Louise, Alta.

Battling through biting snow and a persistent wind on the 3,234-metre course, the American posted a time of minute, 26.10 seconds to beat out Italy's Nadi Fanchini by 0.61 seconds and Germany's Mari Riesch by 0.69.

"The key with this kind of weather is not to get intimidated or afraid," said Vonn. "You have to go out there and keep fighting the whole way down."

Emily Brydon of Fernie, B.C., was the top Canadian, finishing exactly one second behind Vonn to claim seventh place.

"I know I can be on the podium here and I've been skiing really well," said Brydon, whose best result in Lake Louise was a fourth in 2003. "I skied really well today. I'm happy with that.

"We all know I have demons here and seventh place … I can work with that. I can build from that."

Kelly VanderBeek of Kitchener, Ont., was 14th (1:27.49), Britt Janyk of Whistler, B.C. was 15th (1:27.51), Larisa Yurkiw of Owen Sound, Ont., tied for 29th (1:28.28), Calgary's Sherry Lawrence was 52nd (1:29.97), and Montreal's Emilie Desforges was 54th (1:30.21).

Lake Louise will host a second World Cup women's downhill, on Saturday (CBCSports.ca, Bold, 2:25 p.m. ET; CBC 5 p.m. ET), as well as a super-G on Sunday. (CBCSports.ca, Bold, 2:25 p.m. ET; CBC, 3 p.m. ET).

The men's circuit is in Beaver Creek, Colo., where Canadian Erik Guay placed third in Friday's downhill.

With files from the Canadian Press