Lindsey Vonn continues dominance at Lake Louise
American star notches 16th win at Alberta venue
Lindsey Vonn drew on her storied history at Lake Louise and won again despite a near fall Friday.
Vonn almost turned herself into a wishbone a third of the way down the course in the season-opening women's World Cup downhill.
The 31-year-old American blitzed the lower sections to win by over half a second. It was Vonn's 16th career World Cup victory and her 13th in downhill at the Alberta ski resort dubbed "Lake Lindsey."
"I almost went down pretty hard there. I caught an edge and did some sort of split manoeuvre," Vonn said. "I feel like no matter what is thrown at me on this hill, I know how to recover and rebound and somehow still carry enough speed to the bottom to win."
Vonn kneed herself in the face and crossed the finish line with blood dribbling from her mouth when she won a downhill in Lake Louise in 2009. A year later, she fell on her left hip, but recovered to finish second.
"I knew from experience I could make it up if I skied well," Vonn said. "The bottom part of the course is where you can win or lose. I knew that. That's where being a veteran comes in handy."
Vonn's time was one minute 50.5 seconds and .58 seconds ahead of runner-up Cornelia Huetter of Austria. Huetter's teammate Ramona Siebenhofer was 1.07 seconds back in third.
Larisa Yurkiw of Owen Sound, Ont., was 12th. Valerie Grenier of Mont-Tremblant, Que., skied off course and did not finish.
A second downhill is scheduled for Saturday followed by Sunday's super-G.
Vonn swept all three races in both 2011 and 2012 for a pair of Lake Louise hat tricks. With 68 career World Cup victories, Vonn is the winningest woman of all time.
In addition to her near spill Friday, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion skied into a headwind blast so strong that it bent a flag to the ground.
"That kind of helped because it pissed me off," she said. "I was like 'no, I'm getting the worst luck ever.' I've raced this hill 100 times and I've had similar situations where the winds been pretty dramatic and I know it's still possible to win."
Vonn blew a kiss to the spectators lining the finish area after crossing the line. Among her admirers was nine-year-old Calgarian Sierra Coe, who asked Vonn how many more media interviews her heroine had to do.
"A lot sweetheart," Vonn replied. "She's so sweet and always makes me little good luck charms."
The most difficult sections of the course are Fish Net into Fall Away. Yurkiw carved so tight a turn there that she lost speed.
"A bit mediocre for me today," the 27-year-old said. "I did a lot of things well, but I did a pretty crucial section in too conservative a way I think. I was trying to nail the line so badly it turned out to be over-controlling."
"It's something I can fix for tomorrow and I'm definitely happy about that."
All of the Lake Louise races can be seen live on CBCSports.ca. Saturday's downhill starts at 2:30 pm. MT / 2:30 p.m. E while coverage of Sunday's super-G begins at 10:45 a.m. MT / 12:45 p.m. ET.
With files from CBC Sports