Lindsey Vonn 13th upon return to World Cup action
Austrian skier Christine Scheyer wins downhill race
Christine Scheyer of Austria upset the pre-race favourites to win a women's World Cup downhill Sunday on home soil, while American Lindsey Vonn placed 13th in her first race in nearly 11 months.
Not being able to push out of the start gate as usual, Vonn was more than half a second off the lead at the first split and finished 1.54 behind Scheyer.
"I have a little start routine with my poles and I couldn't really do that with my right hand," Vonn said. "I also kind of lost grip on my pole after the last jump."
The four-time overall champion, who holds the women's record of 76 victories, was out nursing a knee injury and a broken arm since February last year. The fracture in her right upper arm also damaged nerves, which was still limiting mobility of her hand.
After announcing a few days ago that she had come to win, Vonn still saw the positives of her comeback race after 322 days.
"All things considered it's about what I would expect," she said. "I felt like I was skiing pretty well, just maybe not quite on the limit yet."
Vonn aiming for worlds
Vonn had three weeks left, including speed weekends in Germany and Italy, to find her best form for the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
"That's definitely a huge goal of mine," she said. "For now I am happy. It's not really a matter of results. It's a matter of just being happy to be racing again. Of course I had higher expectations of myself but considering the conditions and the fact that we had a training run and the race today, I think it was pretty good."
Scheyer, whose previous best was ninth in last month's downhill in Val d'Isere, became the unusual winner of an unusual race. After heavy snowfall had cancelled the program for the past three days, the mandatory training session had to be held just hours before the race.
Scheyer impressed in training as she posted the second fastest time, but went one spot better in the race. In only her fourth World Cup downhill start, she beat Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein by 0.39 seconds. Jacqueline Wiles of the United States was 0.54 behind in third for her first career podium.
Defending overall champion Lara Gut of Switzerland finished fourth, while Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia, who had won all three previous downhill races this season, came fifth.
"It's hard to describe," said Scheyer, who started in speed racing this season after recovering from two severe knee injuries. "I just wanted to have a good training run. After that, I was hoping for a top-10 finish."