Whether you call it divine intervention or destiny, the stars and stripes were indeed aligned yesterday as it became the single best day for the United States in Olympic Winter Games history. And no athlete shined brighter than Vail’s very own, Lindsey Vonn, who won the women’s downhill at Whistler Creekside by .52 seconds.
A Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t write a situation that put more pressure on Vonn than she shouldered when she stepped into her race skis Wednesday morning. For starters, she’s the defending World Champion in downhill, the defending overall World Cup champion, and she’s won five of six downhills on the World Cup circuit this season. To say she was a favorite would be an understatement. Add to that a year-long NBC campaign billing Vonn as the Michael Phelps of the Winter Olympics, then top it off with a painful shin injury that gets its own slot on ESPN’s news ticker.
All that before the race began.
As the race got underway, Lindsey’s competitors were crashing everywhere (aside from teammate Julia Mancuso who laid down the fastest run prior to Vonn), and by the time Vonn finally slid into the start house, she’d waited through several long delays as medics and ski patrollers picked up the carnage. Watching from the finish line was lifelong friend, rival and teammate Julia Mancuso, who threw down a blistering run and led by more than a second.
Vonn was unphased, kicking onto course and throwing herself into every piece of terrain with reckless