The American finished only 0.04 seconds behind Dominique Gisin of Switzerland, who clocked 1 minute, 49.07 seconds on the Oreiller-Killy course in Val d'Isere, France.
Defending overall champion Tina Maze was third, 0.16 behind.
The downhill race is scheduled for Saturday with a giant slalom to follow on Sunday.
Vonn has five World Cup wins in Val d'Isere and also won two golds at the 2009 world championships.
Earlier this month, Vonn raced for the first time in 10 months after a serious knee injury and a partial re-tear of one of two knee ligaments that were reconstructed.
Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano came out Thursday, two days after he was named to the U.S. delegation for Sochi along with openly gay athletes Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow.
The 1988 gold medalist had always kept his personal life private, saying in a statement that "being gay is just one part of who I am."
But President Obama's decision to include openly gay athletes in the delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies — and not send high-ranking officials — was widely seen as a message to Russia about its treatment of gays and lesbians.
"First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance," Boitano said in his statement. "As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."
Russia has come under fierce criticism for passing national laws banning "gay propaganda," and some suggested the United States should boycott the
A Massachusetts judge granted a restraining order that preserves some assets of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in connection with a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of the man he's accused of killing.
At a hearing in New Bedford Superior Court, the judge accepted a temporary agreement between attorneys for Hernandez and the family of Odin Lloyd that the ex-player's North Attleborough, Mass., home could be used to satisfy any future judgment in the civil case. The residence is valued at $1.25 million.
Charles Rankin, who is defending Hernandez in the criminal case, appeared in court on his behalf. But Rankin said he is not representing Hernandez in the civil suit. Hernandez has the right to challenge the order later.
The wrongful death suit filed this week alleges Hernandez "maliciously, willfully, wantonly, recklessly or by gross negligence caused Odin Lloyd to suffer personal injuries that directly resulted in his death." It doesn't specify a figure for damages.
The Purdue-Notre Dame football rivalry is coming to an end.
Purdue said that the schools will meet in Indianapolis next season as part of the Shamrock Series home games the Fighting Irish play every season away from South Bend — and then the teams will not play again until 2020. The night game will be played Sept. 13 at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts.
Purdue and Notre Dame, with campuses 110 miles apart, have played every year since 1946 and 85 times overall. Notre Dame has been ending some rivalry games because it agreed to play five games a season against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents when it joined the conference in most other sports.
Baylor receiver Tevin Reese is getting the cast off his right wrist and expects to play for the No. 6 Bears in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma.
Alabama suspended backup linebacker Xzavier Dickson and freshman tailback Alvin Kamara. Coach Nick Saban announced that neither would play for the third-ranked Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl against No. 11 Oklahoma on Jan. 2. Saban didn't disclose a reason for the suspensions.
Forward Mia Hamm and defender Joy Fawcett were unanimous selections for the U.S. Soccer Federation's All-Time Women's National Team Best XI as part of the governing body's 100th anniversary celebration.
Midfielders Michelle Akers and Kristine Lilly were one vote shy of unanimous in balloting.
Forwards Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, and defender Christie Rampone were the only active players picked. Morgan, at 24, was the youngest.
The rest of the team included goalkeeper Briana Scurry; defenders Brandi Chastain and Carla Overbeck; and midfielders Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly.
The Turkish Athletics Federation cleared Olympic champion Asli Cakir Alptekin of doping violations. The federation said it found no violations of doping rules by Alptekin, who won gold in the 1,500 meters at the 2012 London Olympics.
The probe was prompted by an IAAF request this year that Turkey investigate Alptekin. The international track and field association said Alptekin had abnormal blood values in her biological profile.
FIFA fined the Greece Football Federation $111,500 for offensive behavior by fans at a World Cup playoff victory against Romania.
FIFA says Greek fans at the Nov. 15 match in Athens breached disciplinary rules, including one relating to "contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions."
A monitoring group previously sent reports to FIFA of "Nazi salutes performed by Greek fans during Greece's national anthem."
Bill Redell, who retired as football coach at Westlake Village Oaks Christian after the 2011 season, is returning to the program for a second stint as head coach. Redell, 72, won seven Southern Section titles in 12 seasons as coach.