What injury? Lindsey Vonn overcomes bruised shin to win Olympic downhill gold

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WHISTLER, B.C. - Lindsey Vonn lived up to expectations and won the Olympic downhill Wednesday, and childhood rival and American teammate Julia Mancuso took a surprise silver medal.
In a race characterized by several crashes - including one to Swedish standout Anja Paerson - Vonn's bruised right shin proved not to be a hindrance as she sped down Franz's Downhill course in one minute 44.19 seconds.
Mancuso finished 0.56 seconds behind, and Elisabeth Goergl of Austria took the bronze medal, 1.46 seconds back.
Britt Janyk of Whistler was the top Canadian in sixth at 1:46.21.
Maria Riesch of Germany, Vonn's main rival and best friend, finished eighth.
It's the third time two Americans have finished 1-2 in an Olympic Alpine race, and the first time in 26 years.
At the 1984 Sarajevo Games, brothers Phil and Steve Mahre took gold and silver in the slalom and Debbie Armstrong and Christin Cooper accomplished the feat in giant slalom.
Vonn was hurt Feb. 2 during pre-Olympic practice in Austria and had hardly skied over the past two weeks.
Still, as the two-time defending overall World Cup champion and the winner of five of the six downhills this season, she entered as an overwhelming favourite.
Mancuso won the giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games but hadn't finished on the podium since the Olympic test downhill in Whistler two years ago. The Californian has won only two World Cup downhills in her career, the last nearly three years ago.
Mancuso was an early starter and still led when Vonn skied.
Starting after a TV break, Vonn's run was shown from top to bottom, and it was the worth the watch, as the Minnesota native put on a skiing clinic for all the world to see.
Waiting in the starting gate with the sun reflecting orange off her goggles as she stared down the course, Vonn was a study in mental focus. Kicking out of the start without regard to her bruised shin, she increased her lead at the first three checkpoints, kicking up a trail of snow in her wake as if she were a race car, tucking at every opportunity.
Just when it seemed Vonn might go wide, she applied even more leg pressure, shifted her weight and maintained her line.
It wasn't all perfect, however, and Vonn lost nearly two-tenths on the bottom, almost getting knocked off balance as she went over a small bump just before the finish.
It was more than enough for gold, however, and Vonn collapsed on her back in joy in the finish area. She then raised herself and placed both arms in the air in triumph.
A few moments later, Vonn's smile turned to a frown, as she watched with concern as Paerson lost control off the final jump, getting a huge amount of air and sliding through the finish headfirst.
After days of rain and warm temperatures the race was held under bright sunshine and blue skies. But cool temperatures froze the snow, making it hard and fast.
The women raced the 2,939-metre Franz's Downhill course after only one training run. That practice was divided into two runs and sandwiched around the men's downhill Monday.

The good weather put the large crowd in a festive mood. There were fans dressed in Team Canada hockey sweater and big, foamy cowboy hats with American Flags waved and cow bells rang.

The Canadian team lost a potential medallist when Kelly VanderBeek of Kitchener, Ont., suffered a knee injury prior to Christmas. She is one of five Canadian racers missing the Olympics due to injury.
The last Canadian woman to win an Olympic ski medal was Kerrin Lee-Gartner who won the downhill gold medal at the 1992 Albertville Games.

Own the Podium, the $117-million program designed to help Canada win more medals than any other country at the Games, has poured $10 million into Alpine Canada, more than any other sport.
Own the Podium set a goal of two skiing medals at the Games. Alpine Canada upped that to three, including one gold.
The women are scheduled to race a super-combined on Thursday and the men a super-giant slalom Friday.

Organizations: Team Canada, American Flags

Geographic location: WHISTLER, Austria, Germany Minnesota Kitchener Canada

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