ARE, Sweden (Reuters) - U.S. ski great Lindsey Vonn prepared for the final speed races of her glittering career at the Alpine world championships on Monday, hoping to do her best and ‘get lucky’ in the end.
The 34-year-old’s time in the first women’s downhill training session in Are certainly suggested she remained a contender.
The greatest of female skiers, who has battled knee injuries and said last week that her body was ‘beyond repair’, was first out of the start hut and ended up equal 11th fastest despite easing off at the end.
“I hate number one, first training run like it’s the worst number to have,” she told Eurosport television in the finish area.
“My line was definitely wrong on a couple of parts of the course and it cost me a lot of speed.
“I think in general my skiing was pretty solid,” she added. “I just wanted to have a nice clean run, get that feel for the terrain for tomorrow for the Super-G. And I did that, so it’s all good.”
Vonn said preparing to bow out after so many years was a ‘weird’ feeling and she would just do her best, whatever level that turned out to be.
“I’ll just try as hard as I can and maybe I’ll get lucky,” she said.
Gian-Franco Kasper, president of the governing FIS, hailed Vonn’s contribution in a news conference ahead of Monday’s opening ceremony.
“She will leave a big hole,” he told reporters. “She was one of our really great ambassadors, a PR machine for our sport and we are more than grateful.”
Five Austrians were in the top eight of a delayed session led by Tamara Tippler, who was 1.44 seconds faster than the American, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion.
Switzerland’s Corinne Suter was second fastest with Norway’s Kajsa Vickhoff Lie third.
Olympic snowboard and Super-G champion Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic fell without injury while World Cup Super-G leader Mikaela Shiffrin, Vonn’s team mate, was one of six on the start list who did not run.
Shiffrin, who inspected the course earlier, is not due to compete in the downhill.
The two-week championships start on Tuesday with the women’s Super-G. The women’s downhill is on Sunday, a day after the men’s race.
Organizers said transport problems, that have left some athletes still struggling to reach the resort in western Sweden with limited flights and weather-disrupted trains, were being resolved.
Organizers canceled Tuesday’s men’s downhill training as a result of the travel delays.
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis