Vonn Crashes in Super-Combine Event

SportsAlpine SkiingFIFA World CupJulia MancusoLindsey Vonn

For all the worry about herfamously injured shin, it was a common skiing mistake that endedLindsey Vonn's bid for a second Olympic gold medal in two days.

Though Vonn's bruised right leg was "killing me," she said shesimply failed to get her ski around a right-hand gate and fell inthe slalom run of the super-combined.

"The shin wasn't the reason why I didn't finish the race,"Vonn said. "It was just because I hooked a tip, and that happensin ski racing all the time. I just wish it wasn't at the OlympicGames."

Maria Riesch of Germany won the event, helping to atone for herfailure to challenge best friend and biggest rival Vonn inWednesday's marquee downhill race.

Vonn, who once worried about being able to ski at all in theseOlympics, was fastest in the morning downhill run of thesuper-combined but was visibly in pain after the twisting slalomrun on an icy, bumpy course pressed her ski boot against the badlybruised shin.

Last among the leaders to ski in the afternoon slalom, she was0.07 seconds ahead of Reisch's pace at the first checkpoint butfell behind by 0.18 seconds on the bottom half of the course. Shethen straddled a gate, and the ski flipped off before she fellforward to the snow.

Vonn's husband said the injury was only significant because itkept her from training after a Feb. 2 crash during pre-Olympicspractice in Austria.

"It did play a role in the fact that she hasn't been able toski slalom in, like, three weeks," Thomas Vonn said. "She had themindset of going for gold and it's the Olympics. That's what you'rehere for, and she's capable of winning. So she wanted to go for it,and not ski safe and go for a silver or bronze."

Vonn will get a day off Friday before her next event, Saturday'ssuper-G, where she is an overwhelming favorite. She also is enteredin the giant slalom and slalom next week.

Riesch had a total time of 2 minutes, 09.14 seconds to beatJulia Mancuso of the United States by 0.94 seconds. Mancuso got hersecond silver medal after being runner-up to Vonn in the downhill.

Anja Paerson of Sweden took the combined bronze, 1.05 behindRiesch. Paerson's sixth career Olympic medal in just nine startstied her old rival Janica Kostelic of Croatia for most by a womanin Alpine racing.

Vonn, the two-time defending World Cup overall champion wholives and trains in Vail, Colo., was injured but benefited fromweather delays that wreaked havoc with the Alpine schedule thefirst six days of the Vancouver Games, wiping out most training andraces. The super-combined was originally scheduled for last Sunday.

Vonn said her leg was as sore as ever after Wednesday'sdownhill.

"It's not good. It's really hurting and I'm just strugglingwith it," she said, "but there's nothing really I can do. I justhave to try to do therapy and try to tough it out today, and thentomorrow will be a good day off," she said.

Vonn said her downhill run in the morning was solid but shestruggled to find energy, less than 24 hours after an emotionallyexhausting victory in her signature event.

"It was a long, long day yesterday, and I didn't get as muchrest as I was hoping for," she said. "Especially with my shin, Ineed a little bit more time and therapy to try to get it to feelbetter."

Vonn struggled in slalom this season even before the shininjury. She has failed to complete a two-run race in four of sevenWorld Cup events, and her best result was runner-up behind Rieschat the opener last November in Levi, Finland.

Riesch, who trailed Vonn by 0.33 after the downhill runThursday, punched the air and pressed her hands to her goggles indelight when she saw her time.

"I really can't believe I did it," she said.

Riesch came into this, her first Olympics as the biggest threatto Vonn's predicted domination of the women's Alpine events but wasa disappointing eighth in the downhill.

"I was really nervous. That was the problem for the downhill,"she said. "Today I was much more calm, more confident."

She had an anxious moment in the combined downhill, run on ashortened course with the final jump shaved down after a series ofugly crashes Wednesday. She got too much air in a small jump beforethe halfway point and veered momentarily off course beforecorrecting her race line.

Mancuso moved up a place after being third-fastest in thedownhill leg. She jumped for joy after finishing her slalom run andthen fell back on the snow, her skis in the air.

"When I realized that I got another medal, it was just thiscrazy. ... It's that moment you wait for as any athlete," shesaid.

It was Mancuso's best slalom performance of the season, and itwas the first U.S. medal in women's Olympic combined orsuper-combined since Gretchen Fraser's silver at the 1948 St.Moritz Games. Mancuso also became the fifth American woman to wintwo Alpine medals in the same Olympics.

The 25-year-old skier from Squaw Valley, Calif., still hasarguably her best event to come, next Wednesday, when she willdefend the giant slalom title she won in Turin four years ago.

Paerson's medal was reward for returning to the course 24 hoursafter crashing badly and injuring her left calf on the final jumpWednesday.

Paerson said she tried to ski angry at the start of her downhillrun Thursday, then "after that I thought one thing, to make thatlast jump."

The 28-year-old Swede will be back Saturday chasing a recordseventh medal in the super-G.

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