Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec swept to gold in the women’s downhill at the Alpine Ski World Championships on Sunday, but her victory was eclipsed by a bronze medal for American Lindsey Vonn in the final race of her glittering career.
Corinne Suter of Switzerland took silver, but it was Vonn who hogged the headlines as she brought the curtain down on almost two decades in which she became one of the most successful skiers of all time. Vonn announced earlier in the week that Sunday’s downhill would be her final race after several years spent battling a succession of injuries.
Having crashed out spectacularly in the Super-G competition on Tuesday, Vonn was third out on the shortened course and turned back the clock to give the crowd a final glimpse of her superb skill, balance and concentration.
After a somewhat slow start, the 34-year-old picked up speed as she went, burning up the middle of the course and cruising across the finish line to snatch the lead from Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg in a time of one minute and 02.23 seconds.
There to greet her with a bunch of flowers in the finishing area was Swedish ski legend Ingemar Stenmark, whose record of 86 World Cup wins was long a target for Vonn. In the end she had to settle for 82 victories of her own.
Vonn looked set for a fairytale ending to her career, but a flawless run by 2017 world champion Stuhec resulted in a time of 1:01.74 to put her in the lead by almost half a second.
Suter managed to nip in between the pair to claim silver, 0.23 seconds after Stuhec, but the event will be remembered for the worthy send-off for Vonn as she added the bronze to her haul of three Olympic and seven World Championship medals.