You can read Bryan Graham’s full report from the downhill here:

So that’s all from here. The first of what might be many medals for Italy’s Sofia Goggia, now firmly entrenched as the world’s best downhiller. A stunning silver for Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel. And a hard-earned bronze for one of the legends of the sport, Lindsey Vonn.

I think I’ll check out some figure skating. Gotta prep for coverage of the women’s free skate. Can we have the Olympics every year?

And a quick tribute to Sofia Goggia. The downhill gold medalist (it’s now official, as are the silver for Ragnhild Mowinckel and the bronze for Lindsey Vonn) is 25 years old. In 2012 and 2013, she suffered a handful of knee injuries. Since then, she has been climbing her way up the World Cup ranks -- second in the downhill season standings last year and leading this year.

Sofia Goggia of Italy reacts at the finish.
Sofia Goggia of Italy reacts at the finish. Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Her first World Championship medal, oddly enough, was in giant slalom -- a bronze in 2017. She took fourth in the downhill the same year.

Now, at last, is her big-event breakthrough. She’s someone who may be challenging Mikaela Shiffrin for the overall World Cup title over the next few years and certainly someone to watch for a possible repeat in Beijing.

A quick tribute to Lindsey Vonn. She has endured about as much as any elite athlete can endure, and it’s all been public.

The injuries: Fractures, knee ligament tears, concussion. Badly injured in a training run at the 2006 Olympics, where she was airlifted to the hospital but still returned to finish eighth in the downhill and seventh in super-G. Injured at or before the World Championships in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Injured before the Olympics in 2010, then missed the Games in 2014.

Then the tabloid material. Divorced from Thomas Vonn, also one of her coaches and advisors, in 2011. A relationship with Tiger Woods. This month, online abuse from Trump supporters.

And yet she has won three Olympic medals (almost officially -- two skiers remain). A World Championship downhill/super-G sweep in 2009 among her seven World Championship medals. Four overall World Cup titles. Eight straight season titles in downhill.

You cannot talk about the best ever without talking about her, and she has done it under immense pressure and scrutiny.

Who knows? With no strong expectations, she might surprise us in the combined.

Lindsey Vonn jokes after the women’s downhill.
Lindsey Vonn jokes after the women’s downhill. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Standings through 30 skiers

No changes in the top 15.

  1. Goggia (Italy)
  2. Mowinckel (Norway), 0.09 seconds back
  3. Vonn (USA), 0.47
  4. Weirather (Liechtenstein), 0.63
  5. McKennis (USA), 1.02
  6. Suter (Switzerland), 1.07
  7. Johnson (USA), 1.12

NBC interviews Vonn once again, if only to make her cry when thinking about her grandfather and her Olympic career. Seems a little cruel.

“Most of us have been injured pretty severely” is the key quote.

And she still has the combined to come tomorrow, where she has an outside shot at another medal. But she’s sad that she can’t keep going another four years.

Great. Looking forward to typing this name a lot in the future.

There's going to be a bunch of babies named Ragnhild in Norway this year.

— Maggie Hendricks (@maggiehendricks) February 21, 2018

NBC must have learned its lesson from the super-G. They’re still showing this race. I thought I’d have to go exclusively with the online streaming at this point, but we’re still here, watching skiers whose main goal is to be upright at the finish.

But France’s Romane Miradoli, starting 29th, slots into 17th place. Australia’s Greta Small is still 19th, clinging to the top 20.

The more skiers that go, the more impressive the top three’s performances on the middle of this course look. Canada’s Roni Remme is only 0.59 seconds back at the third split. Then 2.11.

Australia’s Greta Small produces a decent run that might help her improve on her 29th-place finish from Sochi. She’s in 18th place, ahead of skiers from Canada and France as well as all those who didn’t finish (now six).

Lindsey Vonn’s roller coaster continues. She seemed bubbly before Mowinckel bumped her to third. The camera just caught her being comforted by teammate Alice McKennis.

Not sure if she was upset about losing silver or simply overwhelmed after her last Olympic downhill.

Five more skiers have started, and no one has bumped American Laurenne Ross from 15th place.

Lindsey Vonn greets compatriot Alice McKennis after her run.
Lindsey Vonn greets compatriot Alice McKennis after her run. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

You have to feel for Tina Weirather. Bumped to bronze in the super-G by a snowboarder. Bumped off the podium here by a skier who has never finished in the top three of a World Cup downhill. Mowinckel had, in fact, never finished above sixth.

Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather reacts after crossing the finish line.
Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather reacts after crossing the finish line. Photograph: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

Standings through 20 skiers

It would be a massive surprise if the top seven here were threatened by any of the remaining skiers, but you also could have made a lot of money on Ragnhild Mowinckel had you been so inclined.

  1. Goggia (Italy)
  2. Mowinckel (Norway), 0.09 seconds back
  3. Vonn (USA), 0.47
  4. Weirather (Liechtenstein), 0.63
  5. McKennis (USA), 1.02
  6. Suter (Switzerland), 1.07
  7. Johnson (USA), 1.12

Switzerland’s Jasmine Flury takes what would be a really good line if not for the fact that she just missed a gate or two. She’s out.

That’s 20 skiers done.

Mowinckel bumps Vonn to third

Just 0.09 seconds behind Goggia!

That’s a stunning result for the Norwegian, whose downhill record is not great.

Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel took silver in giant slalom. But she was well back in the super-G and hasn’t been on a downhill podium in a very long time.

She gives it a good run, though. 0.07 seconds ahead early. Only 0.10 seconds back at the fourth split, where many skiers have lost time. Then only 0.04 seconds back!

Can she do it?

Italy’s Federica Brignone, my dark-horse pick here based on her good form in the Games so far and her World Cup downhill podium earlier this season, falls early in her run and slides into the fence.

That’s 18 skiers gone. The next two have more than a 1 percent chance of making the podium, but not much more. Then it drops off.

Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer has a blazing start but doesn’t keep it up. The super-G world champion falls 1.04 seconds behind in the middle and a good bit more after that. She slots into 11th.

Italy’s Nadia Fanchini interrupts the Vonn interview by crashing after a promising start.

Vonn says a few more skiers could contend, but she quips that at least there are no snowboarders in the field. Ester Ledecka’s super-G is already a legendary Olympic moment.

NBC is interviewing Vonn. She’s pleased with her run and has no regrets, and she says she may be more emotional about McKennis’ run than hers.

Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg is terrific in giant slalom, with a gold and bronze in that event in the last two Olympics. This isn’t giant slalom. She’s back by more than a second after that middle section that Vonn and Goggia skied well. And she finishes behind McKennis and Johnson.

USA’s Alice McKennis has to hold for a bit. Then she starts really well -- 0.09 ahead through the third split. But the next section is bumpy, and she quickly falls 0.58 back.

She ends up 1.02 back -- good for fourth at the moment! USA holds second, fourth and sixth, and McKennis is excited at the finish, whipping a pole around to celebrate.

My pick for a possible podium finisher is the 18th starter, Italy’s Federica Brignone.

Vonn and Goggia are hugging at the finish line. They’re good friends, and Vonn doesn’t seem upset by the prospect of adding a silver to go with her gold and bronze from 2010.

Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin falls into the same pattern -- relatively close early on, then starting to lag. She doesn’t seem to have a good line and seems too upright for much of the run. Inexplicably, she falls across at the finish. She takes over sixth.

Could Breezy Johnson finish fifth here? That’d be huge for the young American.

Reminder: Goggia, Vonn, Weirather are the current podium.

Austria’s Ramona Siebenhofer had to fight her way onto the team in the training runs. The NBC crew says the Austrian skiers have been very comfortable in these snow conditions.

Not that comfortable, though. She’s 0.90 seconds back. Then nearly 1.5 seconds. She finishes 1.76 seconds back, sixth behind Breezy Johnson.

Austria’s Stephanie Venier stays very close early on. At the fourth split, she’s 0.47 seconds back -- coincidentally the final margin between Goggia and Vonn.

But 70 seconds into the run, she makes a bad turn and falls, sliding off the course. If you have to fall, that’s a good place, and she doesn’t seem hurt.

We have a break after the first 10 skiers. Yes, I realize I posted the “standings after 10” early, but it didn’t change.

Alpine turnover ...

Fun fact, courtesy of US Skiing's @megansharrod: Bronze medalist Lara Gut is only holdover from the top five in Sochi. The other four have retired.

— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) February 21, 2018

USA’s Laurenne Ross, a beneficiary of Mikaela Shiffrin’s decision not to race here, starts well but doesn’t match the contenders in the middle section. She’s ninth.

Switzerland’s Lara Gut took bronze in 2014 and was fourth, shockingly knocked off the podium, in the super-G here. But she takes a jump a bit too far and can’t make the next gate. That’s our first DNF of the race.

Standings after 10 skiers

  1. Goggia (Italy)
  2. Vonn (USA), 0.47 seconds back
  3. Weirather (Liechtenstein), 0.63
  4. Suter (Switzerland), 1.07
Italy’s Sofia Goggia reacts after crossing the finish line.
Italy’s Sofia Goggia reacts after crossing the finish line. Photograph: Francois Xavier Marit/AFP/Getty Images


USA’s Breezy Johnson is only slightly off Vonn’s pace early on. But Vonn powered through the middle pretty well, and Johnson can’t match that. The 22-year-old finishes 1.12 behind Goggia, in fifth place for now.

Lindsey Vonn at the gate ...

... with some loud Lamaze-style breaths and then a smile. Coaches shout some encouragement, and she’s off. Good start, ahead early, but then 0.05 seconds off. Then 0.17 seconds behind Goggia, who did not have the fastest top of the course.

No obvious errors, but she’s losing time. 0.40 seconds to Goggia now. Smooth but not really aggressive.

Goes wide outside the blue line and comes across ... in second. 0.47 seconds behind Goggia, and she doesn’t look happy at first. But then she revs up the crowd. Another medal wouldn’t be a disaster.

Germany’s Kira Weidle has the misfortune of trying to follow that. She’s only 21, and she’s off the pace. Maybe it’s just as well that NBC is showing Vonn’s family rather than this run. Weidle won’t challenge the podium.

Italy’s Sofia Goggia is surprisingly off the pace by 0.10 seconds early. Then a bit more. Was Weirather’s run that good?

But then she finds the perfect line through the middle and moves ahead by 0.11. She pushes that advantage to 0.63 seconds at the finish, flying a long distance on the last jump.

France’s Tiffany Gauthier will apparently be invisible to NBC, which has gone to commercial again. Thank you, international feed (and thanks to NBC for making it available).

She’s close to Weirather’s pace early but gives up quite a bit shortly thereafter. She finishes tied with Huetter for third. So if everyone else fails to finish ...

Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather already has a medal in these Games. The tiny country has a few medals in Alpine skiing over the years.

She’s ahead of Suter by about a third of a second early on, then pushes it to two-thirds. She goes very smoothly through the end but gives back just a bit of her advantage, finishing 0.44 seconds ahead of Suter.

Switzerland’s Corinne Suter is running a bit faster in the early turns, but she loses some speed to Huetter’s time. Like Huetter, she goes outside the blue line but in a different place, and she clearly picked a better line. She finished 0.75 ahead of Huetter.

Now it gets serious.

Austria’s Cornelia Huetter skids a bit on a late turn. She goes outside the blue line after that and then catches a ski on some loose snow. She finishes at 1:41.04.

NBC tells us Vonn chose to race after Goggia because in some events, Goggia has raced after her and figured out the course.

Here we go ... skier-by-skier for the first 15, then sporadic after that.

Remember: Weirather starts third, Goggia fifth, Vonn seventh.

The international feed has a first-person look at the course. It reminds me that our local ski resort no longer has a “Guaranteed Learn to Ski” program. I’m assuming that’s merely a coincidence and not a result of my attempt to learn. Gravity is cruel.

Go on ...

Can blowing out a knee actually help elite skiers like Lindsey Vonn? The evidence actually suggests it can

— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 21, 2018

Want to see the end of civilization?

Search “vonn” on Twitter.

People are mean.

Want to join in?

I won’t have much time to chat while the top 15 skiers are going. We’re going skier-by-skier through that (as opposed to minute-by-minute or over-by-over). Then I’ll only highlight notable runs.

So if you have any pre-race comments, why not share them with me? I’m at or on my second home of Twitter @duresport.

Racing starts in 18 minutes.

Speed respects speed ...

Headed up the mountain to watch the women’s downhill alpine event. Our first day in PyeongChang. So exciting to see the best in the world compete all this week. #WinterOlympics

— Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 21, 2018

Can anyone surprise from the 21st through 30th places?

Maybe someone under 23 who’s on the way up and doesn’t know to be nervous here? That’s Nicol Delago (Italy, starting 21st), Valerie Grenier (Canada, 22nd, 2016 world junior champion), Laura Gauche (France, 25th), Greta Small (Australia, 26th), Roni Remme (Canada, 27th) and Lisa Hoernblad (Sweden, 30th).

But a lot of these skiers don’t really have that much experience in downhill at all, oddly enough.

The last skier to start will be 18-year-old Elvedina Muzaferija of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Start order 1-20 and why they can win

  1. Cornelia Huetter (Austria): She’s fourth in the World Cup downhill standings with a win and a third-place finish.
  2. Corinne Suter (Switzerland): Not much chance. Junior world champion in 2014, though.
  3. Tina Weirather (Liechtenstein): Bronze in the super-G, third in World Cup standings behind Goggia and Vonn.
  4. Tiffany Gauthier (France): One fourth-place World Cup finish.
  5. Sofia Goggia (Italy): World Cup downhill leader.
  6. Kira Weidle (Germany): Third in 2017 Junior World Championships.
  7. Lindsey Vonn (USA): She’s Lindsey Vonn.
  8. Breezy Johnson (USA): One fourth-place World Cup finish and a cool name.
  9. Lara Gut (Switzerland): Bronze medal in 2014, several World Cup wins, fourth in super-G a few days ago.
  10. Laurenne Ross (USA): The occasional fourth-place finish.
  11. Stephanie Venier (Austria): 2017 World Championship runner-up.
  12. Ramona Siebenhofer (Austria): Not much, but she is Austrian.
  13. Michelle Gisin (Switzerland): One World Cup podium this season.
  14. Alice McKennis (USA): She’s due.
  15. Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany): One World Cup podium this season, though she’s better in other events.
  16. Nadia Fanchini (Italy): On the podium in 2009 and 2013 World Championships, has a World Cup podium this season.
  17. Nicole Schmidhofer (Austria): We’ll go with “from Austria” again.
  18. Federica Brignone (Italy): Skiing very well here, with a giant slalom bronze and sixth in the super-G. Plus one World Cup podium this season.
  19. Ragnhild Mowinckel (Norway): Silver in giant slalom here.
  20. Jasmine Flury (Switzerland): Not much, but she’s in the top 20 for a reason.

Ground rules:

First, good evening everyone, and thanks for joining me here. This will be a little different than the figure skating coverage we’ve been doing, so I’ll need to go over some ground rules:

Contenders go first. This is the opposite of figure skating. The big names get their pick in the start order, and they want to go before everyone else gets out there and messes up the course. We’re starting at 9 p.m. ET, and if you wait to check in until 9:30 or so, you’ll miss Lindsey Vonn.

We will not declare a winner until it’s done. By the time 20 skiers have raced, there’s a strong chance that the top three at that time will be the medalists. But after the super-G, when NBC confidently told us Austria’s Anna Veith was the winner and then had to dash back out to the super-G to tell us snowboarder Ester Ledecka had pulled the upset, we’re going to wait.

So after 20 skiers have gone, we’ll tell you who probably has won the medals. After 30 skiers have gone ... maybe “really probably” or something like that? After 39 skiers have gone, we’ll declare it done. That’s because there are 39 skiers in the field.

If you want to flip over to figure skating or curling after the first 20 have gone, that’s up to you. Just keep this page open in case we have another surprise.

Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, we spoke to Lindsey Vonn in the run-up to the Games. Here’s what she had to say:

On Saturday, Lindsey Vonn will return to the Olympic stage for the first time since she won downhill gold in Vancouver eight years ago and carved out a place in US sports history, becoming the first American woman to win alpine skiing’s marquee event at the Games. The intervening years have looked more like a moguls course than a smooth ski slope for the 33-year-old, who has dealt with plenty of bumps on her way back to the Olympics. Yet she remains a risk-taker, continuously willing to put everything on the line for what she loves and what she believes in, an audacity that just could lead her back to the top of the Olympic podium.

A series of right knee injuries and two subsequent surgeries sidelined Vonn ahead of the Sochi Games and prevented her from defending her downhill title four years ago. While ailments and age have forced Vonn to adjust her training – she limits her time on the mountain and places greater emphasis on warming up to protect her body from further wear and tear – the looming threat of injury hasn’t caused her to adopt more cautious race tactics.

“I think that’s what has allowed me to have so much success in my career, the fact that I’m willing to risk everything every time I’m in the starting gate, but it’s also been the reason I’ve crashed so many times” she told the Guardian last month. “We’re going so fast and we’re pushing the limits all the time. Things can go wrong and you get injured, but I feel like that’s just part of the job description. When I’m in the starting gate I want to win, and I’m going to put it on the line. If I crash, so be it, but at least I’ve given 110%.”

You can read the full article here:


Beau Dure

The GuardianTramp

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