LAKE LOUISE, Alberta, (Reuters) - It only took two races after a year’s injury break for Lindsey Vonn to return to the top.
The most successful active skier, forced out of action for 349 days after a shin fracture and two knee operations, clinched her 60th World Cup victory in the downhill at her favorite piste of Lake Louise on Saturday.
“I fought so hard to be back where I am, at the top of the podium. It means the world to me, it’s just unbelievable”, she said. “It’s like a dream day.”
Eighth on Friday for her return to the circuit, Vonn led the first-ever clean sweep of World Cup podium places for the U.S. Ski Team, beating compatriots Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso by 0.49 and 0.57 seconds respectively.
It was the American’s 15th win in the Alberta resort sometimes dubbed Lake Lindsey and her 30th downhill laurels.
Vonn’s last World Cup victory was on Jan. 21, 2013 in a giant slalom in Maribor and she is now only two wins short of the all-time record of 62 held by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell.
“I never felt sidelined, I was supported by my friends, my family and my team. I always knew I could do it. I had confidence in myself,” Vonn said.
In the men’s Super-G in Beaver Creek, Austria’s Hannes Reichelt stopped Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud from becoming the first skier to win all four speed events in the North-American phase of the season.
Crowned on the Birds of Prey in 2006 and 2008, Reichelt made it three victories in 1:12.78 with a 0.52 seconds lead over Jansrud, winner of Friday’s downhill.
Leading the overall World Cup by a huge 191 points over Italian Dominik Paris and 216 over big globe holder Marcel Hirscher, who failed to finish his first Super-G of the season, the Norwegian also won both events in Lake Louise last weekend. For Reichelt, it was a great return to form after back surgery only days after a sensational home win in the Kitzbuehel downhill last season.
The 34-year-old consequently missed the Sochi Olympics.
“Everything stopped after Kitzbuehel last season,” Reichelt said. “I wanted this so bad.”
Editing by Gene Cherry