Courtesy of the U.S. Ski Team
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February 3, 2009 — VAL d'ISERE, France - Fresh from a sweep of two races on the Audi FIS World Cup in Germany, the U.S. Ski Team's Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) charged to her first World Championship title Tuesday, winning the super-G at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in Val d'Isere.
The Minnesota native and Ski Club Vail product who now lives in Park City, Utah, won by .34 seconds over French skier Marie Marchand-Arvier.
Vonn's storied career (on Sunday she tied Tamara McKinney for the most career World Cup wins by an American woman with 18) only lacked a gold medal in the major ski-racing events of the Olympics or World Championships.
Although she broke through with two silvers at the 2007 Worlds in Are, Sweden, she came into these Worlds still needing a gold. She got it in style Tuesday, battling flat light and a rough course that claimed 16 women with DNFs.
"I feel like I've worked my whole life for this moment. I've always dreamed of being a World Champion," Vonn said. "Coming through the finish today I just couldn't believe it. I'm so thrilled and so excited.
"There was so much emotion. You work so hard and to finally have something that you worked hard for, words can't describe it. It's an incredible feeling and I'm just so thankful."
Vonn, who took the silver in super-G at the 2007 World Championships, became the first U.S. woman to earn a gold in the discipline. According to the medalist, though, she wasn't sure she'd make the podium Tuesday.
"Today it was really tough conditions and I didn't know if I was even going to be able to be on the podium, but I skied with my heart. I gave it everything I could and I'm just so thankful and so happy that I was able to come away with a gold medal," Vonn said.
"It takes a lot of hard work, not only for myself, but for my coaches, for my husband, for my serviceman, for everyone to make today happen and I'm so thankful that everything fit together perfectly and I was able to win the gold medal."
Having the win under her belt from the start, Vonn says a little weight has been lifted off her shoulders for the rest of the races in Val d'Isere.
"Now that I have a gold medal, that was essentially my goal for the entire World Championships, so I this is going to allow me to ski a little bit more relaxed and take a little bit of the pressure off," Vonn said. "I think it's a great thing and hopefully I am able to keep going with this momentum."
But, even with a more relaxed tone, Vonn still has a few goals she wants to accomplish before the World Championships come to a close.
"I really hope that I am able to win a medal in the downhill. That, I think, is my biggest goal because it's my favorite discipline. I love it so much and it just would mean a lot to me if I could be able to succeed in that discipline," Vonn said. "I also have the super combined and the slalom, so I have a few more events left that are medal possibilities.
According to Vonn, the World Championships also offer her some preparation time for a larger competition that lies one year over the horizon - the Olympics.
"I have thought about Vancouver and the 2010 Olympics quite a bit. I feel like these World Championships are going to be good preparation for me to get used to the press and expectations and pressure," Vonn said.
"I feel like things have changed a lot since the last Olympics and I think people expect me to do well now. For me I'm going to remember the feeling I had today. I'm going to remember mentally how I was in the start and hopefully I will be able to do the same thing in 2010."
For now, though, Vonn remains focused on the task at hand.
"I'm just gong to keep fighting, keep working hard and hopefully carry this momentum throughout the World Championships," Vonn said.
The World Championships continue in Val d'Isere Wednesday with men's super-G. catch the action live on UniversalSports.com at 3 a.m. MST.
2009 FIS ALPINE SKI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Val d'Isere, France - Feb. 3, 2009
Women's Super G
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:20.73
2. Marie Marchand-Arvier, France, 1:21.07
3. Andrea Fischbacher, Austria, 1:21.13
4. Anna Fenninger, Austria, 1:22.01
5. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1:22.06
22. Stacey Cook, Mammoth, CA, 1:25.38
DNS: Chelsea Marshall (Pittsfield, VT)
DNF: Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA)
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