CORTINA D’ AMPEZZO: American superstar Lindsey Vonn, watched by her admiring golf star boyfriend Tiger Woods, claimed a record 63rd World Cup success with victory in the women’s super-G at Cortina d’Ampezzo on Monday.
The 30-year-old ski great had set herself up for the history-making feat when drawing level with Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Proell’s previous record women’s tally of 62 wins between 1970 and 1980 at the Italian resort 24 hours earlier.
The Olympic downhill champion in 2010 and world champion in the discipline in 2009 could have reached the landmark earlier but for a lengthy absence due to injury.
The four-time overall World Cup champion rewrote the record books when beating Austrian Anna Fenninger (00.85s) and Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein (00.92) on the slope where she had first climbed a World Cup podium 11 years previously.
“It’s amazing – words can’t describe my feeling. 63 feels incredible,” Vonn told the US Ski Federation website.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve done and I’m excited about the future.
“I definitely felt like the pressure was off today. I just wanted to go out and have a good run today.
“I was relaxed and cool and I think it showed in my skiing. I honestly didn’t know if I would be fast enough. I made some mistakes.
“I was shocked I was in the lead but very, very happy.”
Vonn, who also achieved a dream when she starred in the last episode of her favourite TV series Law and Order, said she hoped the landmark would earn the sport the attention she feels it deserves in the United States.
They host the world championships in Vail, Colorado, beginning in early February.
“America is very record centric. Hopefully this will bring more attention to the sport,” she said.
“It will be good going into the World Championships with more interest from the American public.
“I try to promote the sport— it’s an amazing sport.
“To have Tiger here at this race on this occasion was really special for me.
“Everyone (her family were there as well) important to me is here.”
Slovenia’s Tina Maze, who leads the overall standings, came in fourth, almost one second behind.
Vonn has enjoyed considerable success on Cortina’s Olympia delle Tofane slope, her back-to-back wins over the past 24 hours taking her tally here to eight wins.
“It’s a piste that I like a lot. I got my first podium here (3rd in the downhill, January 18, 2004) in the World Cup and I have a really good understanding of the hill,” said Vonn, fourth in the overall standings.
Twenty of her 63-win haul have come in the super-G, a discipline that did not exist when Moser-Proell was racing.
Moser-Proell was fulsome in her praise for Vonn’s achievement, saying that no doubt she would have other records in her sights.
“Nothing better could have happened in the world of skiing,” said Moser-Proell.
“Vonn has taken the sport to another level. Times have changed and each era has their champions.
“Lindsey is also a charming person,” added the five-time world champion (three downhill and two combined) and 1980 Olympic downhill champion.
Vonn had had to put her career on hold for a year-and-a-half following a high speed crash in early 2013.
The American speed queen tore her right knee ligaments and broke a bone in her leg in a super-G crash in February 2013 at the alpine World Championships.
She returned to racing nine months after the accident but her comeback was cut short when she re-injured the knee, forcing her to miss the Sochi Olympics where she had hoped to defend her 2010 Olympic downhill title.
She made a triumphant return in the downhill at Lake Louise in December.
The men’s World Cup record of 86 wins is held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.