Lindsey Vonn completed a skiing hat trick at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup on Sunday by winning the gold medal in the super-G.
The American also won both downhills at the mountain resort west of Calgary. The only other woman to sweep all three World Cup races at Lake Louise was Germany's Katja Seizinger in 1997.
“It's definitely a lot more than I expected considering everything that's going on,” Vonn said. “I didn't come into this race expecting this. Now I'm leaving here with a lot of confidence going into my home race, feeling good and ready to compete.
“It really couldn't have gone any better.”
Vonn announced prior to her arrival in Canada that she and her husband of four years, Thomas Vonn, are divorcing. He oversaw many aspects of her career.
If Vonn felt emotional turmoil, it did not show in her racing here. The 27-year-old from Burnsville, Minn., won both downhills by over a second and a half, which is an eternity in downhill racing.
Her margin of victory Sunday wasn't as large. She finished in one minute 20.21 seconds, just 0.19 seconds faster than Anna Fenninger of Austria. Julia Mancuso of the U.S. was third for the second straight year in 1:20.92.
“It's nice to see we can get a little closer and have a chance in super-G, but the downhills she skied definitely amazing,” Mancuso said of her teammate. “It's inspiring to watch.”
Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., was the top Canadian in 26th. The race was held in clear, sunny conditions and a temperature of minus-16.
Vonn admitted feeling nervous prior to Sunday's race. Listening to music by Lil Wayne and Canada's Drake helped her prepare.
“Whenever there's records on the line, it's tough to really stay focused on skiing and that's just what I tried to do,” she said. “I tried to calm the nerves, stay cool and listen to a little rap music before.
“Just concentrate on skiing. That's what it takes to get the job done.”
Vonn, who lives in Vail, Colo., will head home to prepare for Wednesday's super-G at Beaver Creek. It was moved there from Val d'Isere, France, where a lack of snow forced a rescheduling.
“I really would love to win at home, so I'm going to look at the video and make sure in Beaver Creek that I clean some turns up and make sure I'm skiing a little more aggressive than I skied today,” she said.
The Olympic downhill champion has won 11 World Cup races and has stood on the podium 17 times at Lake Louise since her first win in 2004. With 45 career wins, she ranks fourth all-time and just one behind Renate Goetschl in third.
“This is far beyond what I expected to do in my career and I feel extremely lucky to do what I love to do every day,” Vonn said. “I'm going to try and ski my best and try to win more races and we'll see where that takes me.”
She's taken a healthy lead in the overall World Cup standings with 422 points. Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg is well back in second with 286.
Vonn lost last season's World Cup title to Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch by just three points. Hoefl-Riesch was fifth Sunday.
“Whenever you experience disappointment or you feel you could have done better, it always motivates you to try harder,” Vonn said. “I just really wanted to start this year off well. Last year, I didn't really find my rhythm until later in the season and I just missed out on opportunities. I didn't want to have that feeling today.”
Vonn says she spent part of her summer training with men, including current men's World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.
“I just look at what the men are doing and try to really improve and go in that direction,” she explained. “I want to ski more like the men do and take that tighter line and really have that strength and be dynamic like they are. It's really tough to do, but I've trained a lot with them this summer.
“That's helped me realize how much faster you can go. When you see people go faster, you try to catch up to them and that's helped me push my skiing to another level.”
Canada's Gagnon is ranked in the world's top 25 in slalom and giant slalom. She's putting her efforts into the technical disciplines before branching into speed races.
“I came here with the goal being top 30 and I was right in there today,” Gagnon said. “I'm more of a tech skier so today was more to feel it out. I didn't train any speed at all this summer, so it's getting back on the long, speed skis and feeling out the snow.
“I'm happy with what I did. I know I can push it more.”
Sarah Elliott of Oyama, B.C., was 39th. Sarah Freeman of Pincher Creek, Alta., Madison McLeish of Canmore, Alta., and Tess Davies of Canmore were 54th to 56th respectively.
Canada did not put a skier on the podium in either the men's or women's races at Lake Louise this year, although Calgary's Jan Hudec finished fourth in the men's super-G.
The top skiers on the men's team are all coming back from injuries or ailments that hampered off-season training. The women's speed team was decimated by retirements and knee injuries.
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