by Ralph Routon
You could say Lindsey Vonn has been lucky at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and you'd be right. But it took more than luck for Vonn to make it down the Whistler Creekside course this afternoon, as the Vail skier became the first American skier ever to win the Olympic ladies downhill — with fellow American Julie Mancuso taking the silver.
With the U.S. fans holding up flags and signs that included the message "VONN-couver," Vonn had the fastest times at every interval and finished in 1 minute, 44.19 seconds.
That took the gold away from Mancuso, the 2006 giant slalom gold medalist from Olympic Valley, Calif. Earlier, Mancuso had put up a time of 1:44.75 that gave her a commanding lead. Then came a delay to repair the course after Swedish skier Anja Paerson, who had a shot at a medal, crashed just short of the finish line.
But that didn't faze Vonn, who had benefited from scheduling delays that put off the downhill four days from its initially planned run last Saturday. That gave her more time to recover from the bruised shin that had been bothering her for nearly two weeks. She also benefited from the luck of the draw, getting the No. 16 spot to lead off the final seven super-elite skiers.
Vonn will try for another gold Thursday in the super-combined, a two-part event including a shorter downhill and giant slalom.
The downhill bronze medal went to Elisabeth Goergl of Austria, whose time was 1:45.65. Another American, Stacey Cook, was 11th.
The gold and silver pushed the United States back into the medal lead with 10 (three gold, three silver, four bronze) with more likely medals to come on the busy Wednesday schedule.