Lindsey Vonn earns 50th World Cup win

Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Lindsey Vonn captured her 50th World Cup victory by winning the downhill on the demanding Kandahar course in frigid conditions Saturday.

With the temperature at minus-13 degrees at the starting hut, Vonn trailed early but recovered at the bottom to win by nearly half a second on a slope that gave her trouble at last year`s world championships.

"It`s crazy. I am at a loss for words. I already cried with one of the TV crews and that is enough crying for the day," Vonn said. "Fifty World Cup wins is a huge mark for me in my career and more than I even thought possible."

Vonn joined an exclusive club.

The American is third on the career list, behind Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria (62 victories) and Vreni Schneider of Switzerland (55).

Among the men, Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden has 86, Hermann Maier of Austria 54 and Alberto Tomba of Italy 50.

"I just wanted the 50th win," Vonn said.

Vonn has 25 downhill wins, second behind Moser-Proell`s 36.

Vonn trailed by 0.62 seconds at the second split and nearly lost her balance midway through the 2,930-meter course but regained her composure and cruised home.

"That wasn`t part of the plan," she said of the near crash. "I hit a bump and lost the inside edge of my ski and went onto my hip. From that point until the finish I skied well and was able to make up some time."

Vonn`s winning time was 1 minute, 44.86 seconds. Nadja Kamer of Switzerland was 0.41 seconds behind and Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein finished third, 0.79 back.

"It was a tough race," Vonn said. "Nadja Kamer had a good run. She was really fast at the top of the course. I am not sure how she did it, she may have had some rockets on her skis or something. She skied really well and I knew she would be hard to beat."

Vonn leads the overall World Cup standings by 482 points and the downhill standings by 230 points. She is on course to reclaim the overall title from German rival Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who finished fourth.

"I am just so happy, every win is special, but 50 is a huge mark," Vonn said. "I feel like today will be a day when I look back at my career and see what I have achieved. I have a lot more to do. I have a lot more years of skiing in me, but Alberto Tomba has 50 ski wins and he is one of the best skiers of all-time. I don`t see myself in that way, but to know that I have accomplished so much to this point is amazing."

Vonn celebrated a triumphant return to this southern German resort, where she had a tough time last year at the world championships. Coming off a concussion, the dominant skier of her generation won only a silver medal in the downhill.

"I have raced in a lot of places and always something good or bad happens no matter what you do," she said. "Last year wasn`t the best time here in Garmisch, but I turned everything around this year and it`s awesome to get the 50th in Garmisch.

"My sister`s here, my dad is here. Things happen for a reason and I didn`t win last weekend, because I needed my family here to help me celebrate."

To avoid frostbite, most skiers placed tape over their faces or wore masks.

A super-G is scheduled for Sunday.

Bureau Report

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