Lindsey Vonn, one of the United States' most famous Olympians, won a bronze medal Wednesday, becoming the oldest female medalist in Alpine skiing at the Winter Games in what will likely be her final downhill run.
Vonn, 33, surpassed Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister, who was just shy of her 33rd birthday when she won the downhill and the super-G at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
The race for Vonn was especially emotional because her grandfather died in November.
“I wanted to win so much because of him. But, I still think I made him proud,” and emotional Vonn told NBC. “Our family never gives up, and I never gave up. I kept working hard and I’m really proud of this medal, and I know he is too.”
Vonn wears his initials “DK” on the side of her helmet as a tribute.
“It’s sad, this is my last downhill. I wish I could keep going you know? I have so much fun, I love what I do,” she said. “My body just probably can’t take another for years.”
Sofia Goggia of Italy won the women’s downhill at Jeongseon Alpine Center. Vonn was hopeful of a higher finish, before Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway turned in a surprise silver-medal performance as the 19th racer on the course.
Then again, shocking finishes seem to be the norm on this hill. Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic made a late charge last week from back in the pack to take the super-G title. She skipped the downhill to step back into the snowboarding realm and will go through qualifying Thursday in the parallel giant slalom.
Goggia finished in a time of 1 minute, 39.22 seconds to hold off Mowinckel by 0.09 seconds. Vonn was 0.47 seconds behind Goggia.
This particular track just seems to suit Goggia’s aggressive skiing. She also edged Vonn in March to win the only World Cup downhill contested on the hill.
Goggia was behind at the top, but found another speed near the bottom. Vonn couldn’t match it when she skied off two spots later.
This was Goggia’s first gold at an Olympics or a world championships. She has four World Cup wins.
The night before the race, she said on her Twitter account: “Tomorrow I will push out of the starting gate in what will most likely be my last Olympic Downhill race. I’m trying to enjoy the moment as much as I can and I am thankful to share this race with such amazing teammates. I know everyone expects a lot from me, and I expect even … more of myself … however there’s only one thing I can guarantee; I will give everything I have tomorrow. Count on it.”
Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t race the downhill because of the altered Olympic program. When the Alpine combined was moved a day forward to Thursday, Shiffrin elected to skip the downhill race rather than compete in back-to-back days. The combined adds the times of a downhill and one run of slalom, her specialist discipline.
On social media, she said: “This. Track. Is. So. Fun! Only slightly bummed I’m not skiing it today cause we have 4 girls who are ready to hammer down and I can’t wait to watch!”
American Alice McKennis finished fifth.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.