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Lindsey Vonn wins women's downhill Olympic gold

Lindsey Vonn

Vonn triumphs in women's downhill

Pre-race favourite Lindsey Vonn put on a magnificent display to win gold in the women's downhill at Whistler.

The world champion, 25, pushed herself to the limit over a challenging Olympic course to power across the line in one minute, 44.19 seconds.

She was 0.56 seconds ahead of fellow American Julia Mancuso, with Austria's Elisabeth Goergl taking the bronze.

Anja Paerson of Sweden limped off the course after a horrendous crash, while Britain's Chemmy Alcott was 13th.

Maria Riesch of Germany, Vonn's biggest rival and close friend, finished eighth.

I made it down, it's awesome, it's all I ever wanted

Lindsey Vonn

It was a stunning display from Vonn who had been struggling with a shin injury in the build-up to the Olympics and had hardly skied over the past two weeks.

But the the two-time defending overall World Cup champion put all those concerns behind her as she stormed to her first Olympic gold.

Trailing Mancuso's time over the early part of the course, Vonn accelerated through the middle phase and steamed over the line.

"It's one of the most incredible moments of my life," she said. "When I crossed the finish line and saw my name in first and Julia's second, it was just the coolest thing.

"I knew what I had to do, I knew what type of run I needed to take. I had to attack and I did that," added Vonn. "I made it down. It's awesome, it's all I ever wanted."

A silver for Mancuso, who won the giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games, secured the first American one-two in an Olympic Alpine race for 26 years.

Lindsey Vonn
Two-time World Cup winner Vonn sailed to Olympic gold

Goergl's third place, albeit 1.46 seconds behind Vonn, matched the achievement of her mother Traudl Hecher who finished third in the downhill at the 1964 Innsbruck Games.

Paerson, a bronze medallist in Turin, was on course to take third place when disaster struck.

Within sight of the finish line, she took off like a ski jumper and flew fully 60 metres, before landing on her skis, falling and twisting down the slope.

As the cameras showed Vonn wincing in horror, the Swede was eventually helped to her feet and limped off the course.

"If you see the crash, it's amazing that she can actually walk," said Paerson's coach Ulf Emilsson.

"She got too much air off the jump and was leaning back and wasn't able to throw her weight forward, so she didn't make it.

"She is happy to have survived the crash as well as she did. If you know Paerson like I do, you know she'll probably be back."

Alcott, who was 11th in Turin, was the second skier to take to the challenging course.

It's the Chemmy way - I went for it totally and when you ski like that, it's hard to avoid a couple of tiny slips

Chemmy Alcott

The 28-year-old was the first to finish after the Czech Republic's Klara Krizova fell over halfway through her run - and that meant she momentarily had the distinction of leading the event.

But her time was not good enough and she quickly fell down the leaderboard.

However, she said the race had been an "amazing experience".

"It's the perfect downhill, the best I've ever skied and Mother Nature did us a favour with the conditions," said Alcott, who fell over and ended up in the safety netting after crossing the line.

"I lost a bit of time at the top in the soft stuff and that affected my run. I think I could have gone quicker but I made a few silly mistakes.

"But it's the Chemmy way - I went for it totally and when you ski like that, it's hard to avoid a couple of tiny slips."

French skier Marion Rolland

French skier's downhill dream lasts five seconds

The Londoner, who fell over and ended up in the safety netting after crossing the line, will hope to do better in the combined on Thursday.

Alcott also competes in the slalom, the giant slalom and super-G over the coming days.

In a race littered with spectacular falls, Dominique Gisin of Switzerland suffered one of the nastiest, hitting her head on the ice by the side of the course, but she walked away unaided.

"My head hurts a bit and I'm a bit dizzy," said a tearful Gisin.

"There are a lot of jumps coming out of turns, which are not easy. There are a lot of bumps.

"I had a really long final jump and I started to turn in the air and I just tried to fall without hurting myself.

"Some days are just not your day. But you hope that day is not an Olympic day."

Head to our live page to see the full women's downhill results.

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see also
Women's downhill statistics
17 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
As it happened - Winter Olympics day six
17 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Winter Olympics day six photos
17 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Defago powers to downhill glory
15 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing
US hopeful that Vonn will compete
11 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing
Whistler's weather woes explained
14 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010

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Telegraph Winter Games 2010: Lindsey Vonn misses out as Maria Riesch wins super combined - 12 mins ago Riesch claims gold as Vonn crashes out - 16 mins ago
Sky Sports Vonn crashes, Riesch profits - 48 mins ago
France24 Vonn dominates super-combined first leg - 1 hr ago
Financial Post Riesch takes gold after Vonn crashes - 1 hr ago