Vonn still has four more medal shots -- but the pressure is off
Lindsey Vonn, who became the first American woman to win the Olympic downhill, said afterward, "I can't stop crying."
"I got the gold medal I came here to get," Vonn said. "Now I'm just going to attack every day. No regrets, no fear."
Vonn got a huge break when the combined, which was supposed to be the women's first Alpine event, was moved from Sunday to Thursday because of poor weather.
It allowed Vonn to open the Games with her best event, the downhill, and allowed her to delay testing her sore right shin in the slalom portion of the combined, The slalom puts more pressure on the area where the top of her boot meets her shin.
Racing, and winning, the downhill might send Vonn on an Olympic medal tear.
Before her shin injury, she would have been a serious gold contender in the combined, a downhill and slalom run on the same day. Given her performance Wednesday, Vonn might now again be a favorite in Thursday's race.
She will also have an excellent gold chance in Saturday's super-giant slalom. Her weakest medal chance will likely be next Wednesday's giant slalom, the only discipline Vonn hasn't won on the World Cup circuit. The women's schedule closes with the slalom on Feb. 26. Vonn would have been a medal contender here before her shin injury.
How she fares now may depend on how the injury holds up after four Olympic races.
"The pressure is off," Lindsey's husband, Thomas, said. "She'll leave here with a smile no matter what happens."
-- Chris Dufresne, in Whistler, Canada
Photo: Lindsey Vonn exults after completing her downhill run. Credit: Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times.