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February 11, 2019

Vonn in bronze as Stuhec defends world downhill


February 11, 2019

LONDON: US ski star Lindsey Vonn brought her illustrious career to a close with a hard-fought bronze at Sunday’s world downhill which was won by defending champion Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia.

Vonn, the most successful women skier of all time with a record 20 World Cup titles to her name and 82 victories on the circuit, clocked 1min 02.23sec, briefly leading before slipping behind Stuhec and Swiss silver medallist Corinne Suter in the Swedish resort of Are. "It was so fun, I was literally the most nervous I’ve ever been in my entire life," Vonn told Eurosport. "I wanted to come down and be in the lead for one last time and to hear the crowd roar and to not crash.

"I’m always full tilt and always on the limit. I was worried that I’d charge too hard and not make it down for my last race - that’s my worst nightmare." While all the build-up had been about Vonn, Stuhec became the first skier to successfully defend the women’s downhill world title since Swiss Maria Walliser (1987, 1989), with only three others having previously won twice in a row.

Vonn herself joined Kjetil Andre Aamodt (seven separate years), Marc Girardelli (six), and Aksel Lund Svindal (nine) as the only skiers to have collected a medal at six World Ski Championships. At 34 years and 115 days old, she also became the oldest world medallist, performing in front of an onlooking Ingemar Stenmark, the Swedish skiing legend whose record of 86 World Cup victories Vonn will not now break.

For her final downhill, the American donned a blue and grey helmet and white catsuit, with blue and yellow lines around her sleeves, lower leg and midriff in what she said was both a nod to host country Sweden and to honour nemesis Stenmark.

Racing with bib number three, Vonn, who admitted this season that her "body is broken beyond repair" and faces a knee reconstruction in the near future, had laid out her mindset in an instagram post just before the race.

"One last time I will stand in the starting gate. One last time I will feel the adrenaline running through my veins. One last time I will risk it all. One last time... I will remember it forever. Let’s do this!" she said.

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