Lindsey Vonn clinched her fifth consecutive World Cup downhill title yesterday, although German rival and friend Maria Hoefl-Riesch won the race on the 2014 Sochi Olympics course.
For her second victory this season and first in downhill, Hoefl-Riesch clocked 1 minute, 49.17 seconds down the Rosa Khutor slope. Elisabeth Goergl of Austria finished second, 0.43 seconds behind, while Vonn was third, 0.59 back.
Vonn now holds an unassailable 231-point lead over Hoefl-Riesch in the downhill standings with two races remaining in the discipline this season and wins worth 100 points each.
“Downhill is my favorite event and it’s always nice to wrap up a title before the end of the season before the last races,” Vonn said. “It puts a little less pressure on me.”
Vonn has an even bigger lead in the overall standings, where she is 448 points ahead of Slovenia’s Tina Maze and 486 points in front of Hoefl-Riesch, who ended Vonn’s run of three consecutive overall titles last season.
The start of the race was delayed by 15 minutes as organizers cleared overnight snowfall off the course and there were a few more delays once it started because of clouds moving over the course, limiting visibility.
Like for the men’s races last week, the stands were only half full, although those that were in attendance were enthusiastic, singing and cheering on each finisher.
Vonn started after a TV break and executed well on the upper portion of the course, but lost some time on the bottom and her lead only lasted slightly more than a minute because Hoefl-Riesch skied next and was faster than Vonn at each checkpoint.
“I may have been a little cautious on the top because the coaches were saying outside the track was really soft,” Vonn said.