WHISTLER, British Columbia — For all the worry about her famously injured shin, it was a common skiing mistake that ended Lindsey Vonn’s bid for a second Olympic gold medal in two days.
Though Vonn’s bruised right leg was “killing me,” she said she simply failed to get her ski around a right-hand gate and fell in the slalom run of the super-combined.
“The shin wasn’t the reason why I didn’t finish the race,” Vonn said. “It was just because I hooked a tip, and that happens in ski racing all the time. I just wish it wasn’t at the Olympic Games.”
Maria Riesch of Germany won the event, helping to atone for her failure to challenge best friend and biggest rival Vonn in Wednesday’s marquee downhill race.
Vonn, who once worried about being able to ski at all in these Olympics, was fastest in the morning downhill run of the super-combined but was visibly in pain after the twisting slalom run on an icy, bumpy course pressed her ski boot against the badly bruised shin.
Last among the leaders to ski in the afternoon slalom, she was 0.07 seconds ahead of Reisch’s pace at the first checkpoint but fell behind by 0.18 seconds on the bottom half of the course. She then straddled a gate, and the ski flipped off before she fell forward to the snow.
Vonn’s husband said the injury was only significant because it kept her from training after a Feb. 2 crash during pre-Olympics practice in Austria.
“It did play a role in the fact that she hasn’t been able to ski slalom in, like, three weeks,” Thomas Vonn said. “She had the mindset of going for gold and it’s the Olympics. That’s what you’re here for, and she’s capable of winning. So she wanted to go for it, and not ski safe and go for a silver or bronze.”
Vonn will get a day off Friday before her next event, Saturday’s super-G, where she is an overwhelming favorite. She also is entered in the giant slalom and slalom next week.
Riesch had a total time of 2 minutes, 09.14 seconds to beat Julia Mancuso of the United States by 0.94 seconds. Mancuso got her second silver medal after being runner-up to Vonn in the downhill.
Anja Paerson of Sweden took the combined bronze, 1.05 behind Riesch. Paerson’s sixth career Olympic medal in just nine starts tied her old rival Janica Kostelic of Croatia for most by a woman in Alpine racing.
Vonn, the two-time defending World Cup overall champion who lives and trains in Vail, Colo., was injured but benefited from weather delays that wreaked havoc with the Alpine schedule the first six days of the Vancouver Games, wiping out most training and races. The super-combined was originally scheduled for last Sunday.
Vonn said her leg was as sore as ever after Wednesday’s downhill.
“It’s not good. It’s really hurting and I’m just struggling with it,” she said, “but there’s nothing really I can do. I just have to try to do therapy and try to tough it out today, and then tomorrow will be a good day off,” she said.
Vonn said her downhill run in the morning was solid but she struggled to find energy, less than 24 hours after an emotionally exhausting victory in her signature event.
“It was a long, long day yesterday, and I didn’t get as much rest as I was hoping for,” she said. “Especially with my shin, I need a little bit more time and therapy to try to get it to feel better.”