Kneeing herself in the face, biting her own tongue, and even falling on her rear end hasn't stopped Lindsey Vonn at Lake Louise.

The American skier has won more World Cup races at the venue than anywhere else in her decorated career. She's won eight races and stood on the podium 14 times.

Two years ago, Vonn crossed the finish line with blood dribbling from her mouth. Her knee connected with her chin during the race, yet Vonn still won the first of her two downhills that year.

Vonn executed an incredible piece of skiing last year in a race she didn't win. She went down on her left hip entering a section of the course named Fall Away, but made an impressive recovery on the slope's face and actually made up time on the bottom section.

Vonn finished second in that downhill to Germany's Maria Riesch-Hoegl. It was Vonn's second runner-up result to the German in as many days, but Vonn wasn't leaving Lake Louise without a victory. She won the super-G on the final day.

While rivals such as Riesch-Hoegl will challenge her this year in Lake Louise, Vonn's record and the toughness she's demonstrated at this mountain resort west of Calgary give her an aura of invincibility.

She's stood atop the podium at Lake Louise in at least one race for seven straight years.

"I've always had a good feeling here," Vonn said Thursday. "I just feel like I don't even need to inspect. I know the hill so well.

"I know what I have to do if I want to get a good result here so it's just a matter of executing. I still have a lot of confidence from what I've been able to do here in the past. That always helps me every year to believe in myself."

The 27-year-old from Burnsville, Minn., was second to Switzerland's Dominique Gisin in the final training run for the first of two downhills starting Friday.

Gisin's Swiss teammate Marianne Kaufmann-Aberhalden was third. Canadian developmental team skier Sarah Freeman of Pincher Creek, Alta., was 56th.

It remains to be seen if Vonn's personal life intrudes on her skiing both at Lake Louise and during the season.

Prior to arriving in Canada, the reigning Olympic women's downhill champion confirmed she's divorcing Thomas Vonn, her husband of four years. He oversaw many aspects of Vonn's skiing career.

Physical adversity

Vonn has raced through adversity of a more physical kind at Lake Louise before and won. She's also still skiing fast.

Vonn won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria. After skipping a slalom race Sunday in Aspen, Colo., to rest a sore back, Vonn was first, third and second respectively in three training runs at Lake Louise.

"I think Lindsey is skiing really well," said her American teammate Julia Mancuso. "She had a really good summer of training."

Vonn became the first American woman to capture Olympic gold in downhill at the 2010 Winter Games in Whistler, B.C., despite a painful shin injury.

She's now a brand that transcends the sport of skiing. Vonn has appeared in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit addition and has also won ESPN's award for top female athlete two years running.

In her acceptance speech at the ESPY's this year, Vonn asked Justin Bieber for a photo for her Facebook page and the Canadian pop star granted her request.

The two downhills and super-G at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup are the first speed events of the season and thus give winners a head start in the race for points.

Vonn won three straight overall World Cup crowns before Riesch-Hoegl edged her out of a fourth by three points last season. The German considers Vonn the favourite at Lake Louise.

"This is definitely the case," Riesch-Hoegel said. "She's always hard to beat here in Lake Louise. She's had even more wins and podiums than I have."

After an adventurous couple of years racing at Lake Louise, Vonn's goal is mistake-free runs here.

"Hopefully something a little less dramatic," she said. "I'd just like to have a clean run with no mistakes and preferably not bite my tongue or fall."