by Ralph Routon
Lindsey Vonn of Vail straddled a gate midway through her first run of the Olympic ladies slalom and skied off the course to end her quest for a third medal at the 2010 Winter Games on Whistler Mountain.
Vonn was about 0.33 of a second off the pace of leader Maria Riesch of Germany when the American took off in worsening conditions of snow and fog. Vonn suffered a broken right pinkie two days earlier in the giant slalom, and apparently had told coaches that if she didn't feel good during her run, she might not finish.
The top American after the first slalom run is Sara Schleper in ninth place.
Vonn still comes away from the Olympics with a gold and bronze, part of the U.S. Alpine team's record eight medals.
“I came out of the starting gate charging. But I haven't been skiing a lot of slalom and hit some mashed potato snow and it was over before I knew it,” Vonn said afterward. “Even though today and the GS wasn't a success, I'm happy with the way my Olympics has gone. I have a gold in the downhill and bronze in the super-G and I couldn't ask for any more.
“I know I could have had more medals like in the super-combined where I went out. But you have to attack and you have to take risks.”