LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Lindsey Vonn won the World Cup women’s downhill Friday at Lake Louise for her ninth career victory at the resort.
The American star finished in 1 minute, 53.19 seconds to beat Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather by 1.95 seconds — the largest victory margin in Vonn’s downhill career.
Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin was third in 1:55.29.
“I mean, 2 seconds, that’s crazy,” Gisin said. “We will try to be a little bit closer to Lindsey tomorrow. That’s probably the only thing you can hope for.”
Vonn has won at least one race at Lake Louise in eight straight years.
“I just have always had such a good feeling here,” said Vonn, fourth on the women’s career list with 43 World Cup victories. “That track suits me so well. I feel at home. It can’t be more peaceful and amazing with the mountains here. I would prefer to have every race here in Lake Louise, but I don’t think they’ll let me.”
Alice McKennis of Glenwood Springs, Colo., was eighth in her return from a knee injury.
“It’s been such a long road for me and to be fast in my first race back is just an incredible feeling,” McKennis said. “I felt so much more comfortable today than I have in any of the training runs. I felt like I was skiing well, but I no idea that I’d come down in a decent position. I’m so pumped up for another day of downhill tomorrow.”
After the second downhill Saturday, a super-G is set for Sunday.
Vonn, the reigning Olympic downhill champion, recently announced that she and her husband of four years, Thomas Vonn, are divorcing. Thomas Vonn had overseen many aspects of her career.
“Right now, skiing is the best thing for me,” Vonn said Friday. “When I’m on my skis and on the mountain, I feel calm and feel comfortable.
“I love skiing. I love going fast. I love downhill. Today, even if I didn’t win, I think just racing and being on the mountain is what I need.”
The 27-year-old star from Burnsville, Minn., credited her U.S. teammates and her rivals on the World Cup circuit for rallying around her, singling out Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who beat Vonn by three points for the overall title last season.
“That’s helped me so much through this time,” Vonn said.
Hoefl-Riesch was ninth Friday. World downhill and super-G champion Elisabeth Goergl of Austria finished in a three-way tie for 20th with teammate Anna Fenninger and France’s Marlon Rolland.
Bode Miller won the men’s downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Friday to mark the first time since Dec. 3, 2004, that an American man and woman won downhills on the same day. That also was Vonn’s first World Cup victory, when she competed as Lindsey Kildow.
Vonn has won eight downhills and a super-G at Lake Louise. Hoefl-Riesch edged her off the top of the podium in both downhills in 2010, but Vonn took the super-G.
A lack of snow in Val d’Isere, France, has forced the world governing body of skiing to move men’s and women’s races scheduled for Dec. 10-11 to Beaver Creek. The women will race a super-G there Wednesday.
Vonn was already mentally preparing for it.
“We’re only going to have that one inspection on the hill on Wednesday and I’ve never actually skied on the course,” Vonn said. “It’s going to be really important to have a good inspection. I think I’m going to be thinking about that a little bit this weekend and make sure I’m really focused and ready for the race this coming Wednesday.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)