Vonn crashes, but Shiffrin collects first downhill podium in Lake Louise

Lake Louise was unusually harsh on Lindsey Vonn in the first women’s World Cup downhill of the season Friday.

Her American teammate Mikaela Shiffrin fared much better.

In the lead by five hundredths of a second, Vonn crashed within sight of the finish line on the Alberta mountain where she owns 18 World Cup victories. She was able to get up and ski into the finish area.

Shiffrin, the reigning world and Olympic slalom champion, earned a bronze medal racing just the third downhill of her career.

“I’m still not sure what my expectations are in downhill and today was an amazing day,” Shiffrin said.

Cornelia Huetter of Austria earned the first downhill victory of her career in a time of one minute 48.53 seconds.

Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was second in 1:48.62 and Shiffrin third in 1:48.83. Valerie Grenier of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was the top Canadian in 32nd.

Huetter suffered a knee injury in January, which sidelined her the remainder of last season.

“It’s unbelievable,” Huetter said. “It’s my first race after the injury, so it’s my comeback and it’s the best comeback I’ve ever dreamed about.”

Vonn tumbled into the safety nets on the final turn called “Claire’s Corner”, where Canada’s Marie-Michele Gagnon also fell in Friday’s training.

The 28-year-old from Lac-Etchemin, Que., separated her shoulder and hyperextended her knee flying into those same nets. Gagnon will not race the second downhill Saturday or Sunday’s super-G.

In took Vonn some time to detangle from the nets. She gave spectators a weak wave in the finish area.

“The crash looked terrible, so we’re all really, really thankful she’s OK,” Shiffrin said. “She’s been training, she’s been healthy more or less, so she’s fully at capacity to win these races.”

Vonn did not speak to media and declined autograph-seekers saying “I have to go ice my hip.”

She later tweeted: “Well that hurt… had a nice lead the whole down but caught my inside ski.

“I’ll be sore tomorrow but will rest up tonight and barring anything major I will be racing. Can’t keep me down!”

Shiffrin had raced just two World Cup downhills prior to Friday. Both were in Lake Louise in 2016 when she placed 13th and 18th.

Winner of the overall World Cup title last season, the 22-year-old is considered the heir apparent to Vonn as the world’s female ski star.

“I’ve definitely made a lot of progress in my downhill,” Shiffrin said. “Super-G comes a little bit more naturally because there’s a little bit more turning.

“Downhill, I’m always surprised at how much time there is to make the turns. That’s something I’ve worked on a lot, being a little more patient.”

Vonn has won 14 downhills and four super-G races at the resort west of Calgary dubbed “Lake Lindsey.” The 33-year-old couldn’t race on her favourite course a year ago because of a broken arm.

Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec won both Lake Louise downhills in Vonn’s absence last year.

The reigning women’s world downhill champion isn’t back to defend because Stuhec tore ligaments in her knee while training in October.

Meanwhile, Gagnon wrote on her Instagram account that in addition to her dislocated shoulder and stitches in her wrist, she was undergoing magnetic resonance imaging on her knee Friday.

“Nothing too major that would mean season ending,” she wrote. “I will be doing some temporary rehab in the meantime.

“I am looking forward to be back. Hope it won’t be too long.”

An early start number was an advantage Friday as snowfall increased and visibility diminished throughout the afternoon.

“When you looked down from the start you were like ‘oh my god, you can’t see anything,” Weirather said. “While skiing, it was actually better because we were in the forest and had some contrast.”

The final turn was problematic for a few skiers, including Weirather, who slipped coming out of that turn.

“That cost me the win,” she said. “That’s a pity because I was really close and it would have been my first win here.”

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

Keaton Wildeboer, of Lacombe, participates in the Westerner Championship Dairy Showcase at Westerner Park on Thursday. More than 150 cattle will be on display at the event, which continues until Saturday, carrying on a tradition started in 1954. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Western Canada’s first dairy showcase since last fall begins in Red Deer

Western Canada’s first dairy showcase since last fall is currently being held… Continue reading

Car thief opening stolen car doors. 
(Black Press File Image)
Idling vehicles attracting thieves, RCMP warns

About one-third of stolen vehicles left idling unattended

Police reveal a collection of drugs, cash and guns seized in an April 2016 bust. One of the men charged was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday.
Advocate file photo
Red Deer man sentenced to 27 months for role in “dial-a-dope” operation

RCMP Priority Crimes Task Force broke up drug operation in April 2016 after four-month investigation

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP’s downtown traffic stops lead to charges

Two traffic stops conducted by Red Deer RCMP officers on bike patrol… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

New York Giants' Evan Engram (88) tumbles after trying to leap over Philadelphia Eagles' Cre'Von LeBlanc (34) as Josh Sweat (94) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Carson Wentz rallies Eagles to 22-21 win over Giants

Carson Wentz rallies Eagles to 22-21 win over Giants

North Carolina State safety Jakeen Harris (6) tackles Virginia wide receiver Terrell Jana (13) during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. Jana's last name doesn't appear on the back of his Virginia Cavaliers football jersey as a tribute to enslaved labourers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Daily Progress, Erin Edgerton
Canadian receiver Jana’s name missing from jersey to honour enslaved labourers

Canadian receiver Jana’s name missing from jersey to honour enslaved labourers

Tiger Woods hits from the 11th tee during the first round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Munoz in the lead and Woods with his worst score at Sherwood

Munoz in the lead and Woods with his worst score at Sherwood

The national anthem is performed ahead of the inaugural soccer match of the Canadian Premier League between Forge FC of Hamilton and York 9 in Hamilton, Ont. Saturday, April 27, 2019. Canadian Premier League champion Forge FC takes on El Salvador's CD Municipal Limeno in a CONCACAF League preliminary-round match Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett
Forge FC scores late to win CONCACAF League preliminary-round game in El Salvador

Forge FC scores late to win CONCACAF League preliminary-round game in El Salvador

NHL cancels 2021 Minnesota Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend

NHL cancels 2021 Minnesota Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2020, file photo, Mariah Bell performs her senior women's free skate program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Greensboro, N.C. When U.S. skaters and a few foreigners training in this country kick off the season at Skate America this weekend, it could be a rare opportunity to display their wares. So they will relish the chance to get on the ice for competition, knowing that two Grand Prix series events and the Grand Prix Final have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and prospects of national and word championships being held are uncertain.(AP Photo/Lynn Hey, File)
Skate America opens shortened, coronavirus-impacted season

Skate America opens shortened, coronavirus-impacted season

Kang, Song share lead in LPGA Drive On Championship

Kang, Song share lead in LPGA Drive On Championship

Vegas Golden Knights' Alec Martinez (23) is checked by Vancouver Canucks' Jake Virtanen (18) during first period NHL Western Conference Stanley Cup playoff action in Edmonton on August 23, 2020. The Canucks have signed Virtanen to a two-year contract with an average annual value of US$2.55 million. Virtanen had 36 points and 41 penalty minutes in 69 games in the 2019-20 season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Forward Jake Virtanen signs new two-year deal with hometown Vancouver Canucks

Forward Jake Virtanen signs new two-year deal with hometown Vancouver Canucks

Most Read