Lindsey Vonn’s bid for a second Olympic downhill gold medal came unstuck Wednesday as the US ski star finished third in the women’s blue riband event won by “crazy” close friend Sofia Goggia of Italy.
Goggia described herself as a “samurai” after timing 1min 39.22sec for a first ever downhill title for the Italian women’s team.
The 25-year-old came in 0.09sec ahead of Norway’s giant slalom silver medallist Ragnhild Mowinckel, with Vonn a further 0.42sec adrift.
Goggia made a mistake on the upper part of the polished 2.8km-long Jeongseon course, but produced a magnificent gliding mid-section and strong bottom third.
It reaffirmed the fine form she has shown on the World Cup circuit this season, with two victories and two second places in the downhill, and also second and third placings in the super-G.
“I was really focused, I moved like a samurai,” said Goggia, her head coach Massimo Rinaldi labelling her as “crazyhorse”.
“Usually, I’m really chaotic, but I wanted to take in every little detail, every particular in the morning. I believed in myself — and then what counts. I didn’t take any risks. I just used my brain because I have one sometimes and I use it!”
Rinaldi said it was a “special” day for Italy, adding: “Sofia’s always skiing fast, always skiing 110 percent, sometimes the mistakes come, but she’s always trying to do her best.”
Vonn made few errors in her descent, but it was just not enough, Mowinckel providing a surprise factor with her second place after starting 19.
After the race Vonn, 33, confirmed that it would be her last Olympic downhill and said: “I gave it all today, skied a great race. Sofia just skied better than I did.
“It’s sad. It’s my last downhill. I wish I could keep going, I’m having so much fun and I love what I do, but my body just can’t take another four years,” she said.
“But I’m proud to be competing for my country, giving it all and proud to come away with a medal.”
Mowinckel followed up on her giant slalom podium with another strong showing for Norway, which now tops the alpine medal table with six.
“Well, we do have a lot of snow up there in Norway,” she said. “It’s a great environment for winter sports and there’s saying that ‘we are born with skis on our feet’.”
Vonn’s bronze at least made up for disappointment of her sixth place in the super-G when an error at the bottom cost a podium place in a sensational race won by Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka.
All eyes were again on Vonn, winner of 81 World Cup races, as she started the second race in her Pyeongchang Games campaign in brilliant sunshine.
Dressed in a figure-hugging white catsuit with red and blue stripes, Vonn reached speeds of 115 kmh and flew more than 30 metres off the jumps.
Vonn won the blue riband title at the 2010 Vancouver Games but missed Sochi through injury.
But the gold was beyond her as she finished behind Goggia, whose friendship she has said is based on them both being “100 percent crazy”.
The pair embraced at the finish area, Vonn allowing herself a slight look skywards, a sigh and shrug of the shoulders.
She at least broke the record for oldest female medallist in alpine skiing, previously held by Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister when she won the super-G in 2006.
A doping case involving a medal-winning Russian curler rocked the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Monday, as Mikaela Shiffrin’s turbulent Games took another twist when she pulled out of the downhill skiing.
Alexander Krushelnitsky’s failed drug test came to light a week after he won mixed doubles bronze with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, and could extend Russia’s suspension from the Olympics.
The case, now with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will be considered by Olympic officials deciding whether to lift Russia’s ban in time for Sunday’s closing ceremony.
“Should this case be proven… that will also be part of the consideration as to whether there will be an allowance for them to march in the closing ceremony under their flag,” said International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams.
Russia were banned from the Olympics after investigations revealed an extensive doping plot culminating at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, where the hosts topped the medals table.
But 168 Russian athletes declared clean after extensive vetting were allowed to compete in Pyeongchang as neutrals, under the banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia”.
“Only athletes for whom there was no suspicion were invited to the Games,” Adams said, adding: “Unfortunately wherever there’s competitive sport, you’ll have people cheating.
“But I think you can be pretty confident we have a very, very thorough testing process in place and we have the experts with the expertise who are doing that.”
Among Monday’s events, Canada and Germany shared gold when they dead-heated in the two-man bobsleigh — the first time two teams have shared the title since Nagano 1998.
Robert Johansson and his bushy handlebar moustache anchored Norway to victory in the men’s team ski jump, while Havard Lorentzen won the men’s 500m speed skating as Norway went clear on the medals table with 11 golds to Germany’s 10.
‘MY WORST NIGHTMARE’
Shiffrin arrived in Pyeongchang capable of challenging, Michael Phelps-style, for five gold medals, but it has been a tough Games so far for the American.
After bombing in the slalom and pulling out of the super-G, she announced her withdrawal from the downhill on Monday as looming bad weather forced yet another schedule change.
It means that Shiffrin, who won the giant slalom, can finish with a maximum of two individual golds, with just Thursday’s combined event left on her schedule.
“As much as I wanted to compete in the Olympic downhill, with the schedule change, it’s important for me to focus my energy on preparing for the combined,” said Shiffrin.
She made the announcement after Friday’s combined was brought forward to Thursday to avoid bad weather. The downhill is scheduled for Wednesday.
Earlier on Monday, French officials said Shiffrin’s partner, skier Mathieu Faivre, had been sent home for disciplinary reasons after an outburst following Sunday’s men’s giant slalom.
In figure skating, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir smashed the short dance world record, but French rival Gabriella Papadakis was left in tears by an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.
As Virtue and Moir glided, twizzled and spun their way to a best-ever score of 83.67, Papadakis performed stoically with her partner Guillaume Cizeron after her dress became unclipped early in their routine.
“It was pretty distracting, my worst nightmare at the olympics,” the 22-year-old Papadakis said. “I felt it right away and I prayed.”
South Korea threatened an upset of mighty Finland before falling short while Norway snapped an 11-game Olympic losing streak to advance to the Pyeongchang men’s hockey quarter-finals Tuesday along with Germany and the United States.
Finland, medallists in five of the past six Olympics, saw a three-goal lead trimmed to one before escaping with a 5-2 playoff victory over the Olympic hosts to secure a Wednesday quarter-final date with two-time defending champion Canada.
“They played great. I respect that,” said Finland’s Petri Kontiola, who scored twice. “They did a great job.”
After the game, the South Korean team took large flags onto the ice and skated laps around the rink in an emotional tribute to the screaming fans who were giving their winless team a standing ovation.
“I felt so proud with the flags around me,” tearful forward Park Woo-sang said. “We wanted to thank them for all the support.”
Down 3-0, the South Koreans roared back as Canada-born Radunske, the first player without Korean ancestry to play for South Korea after taking citizenship in 2013, scored 10:06 into the second period and Ahn Jin-hui followed only 2:03 later.
“The crowd deserved to see the puck go in the net. They have been behind us the whole way,” said Korean forward Brock Radunske. “That was a little giveback to the fans. They have been with us every step of the way. The support has been unbelievable.”
The Finns thwarted a Korean power play to start the third period, then Juuso Hietanen struck for a power-play goal with 12:40 remaining.
“They were working really hard. It wasn’t an easy game,” Hietanen said. “They should be proud.”
An empty-net goal late by Sakari Manninen doomed the South Korean upset bid.
“I knew it was possible it could turn,” said Finland’s Sami Lepisto. “I wasn’t nervous about the situation but you never know.”
Norway, which had not won since a 1994 11th-place consolation game, edged Slovenia 2-1 on Alexander Bonsaksen’s over-time goal to book a last-eight matchup against the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
“This is historic,” Bonsaksen said. “I’m really happy.”
The US men routed Slovakia 5-1 and will face unbeaten Czech Republic in Wednesday’s quarter-finals while Germany edged Switzerland 2-1 on Yannic Seidenberg’s over-time goal to set a quarter-final against unbeaten Sweden.
Now the Americans, who haven’t won Olympic gold since 1980, face a Czech squad seeking its first Olympic crown in 20 years.
Harvard University star Ryan Donato scored two goals as he did in an earlier win over Slovakia and US goaltender Ryan Zapolski made 22 saves.
Both shined after being flattened in the second period, with Michal Cajkovsky sent off for 25 minutes for a blow to Donato’s head.
“I just dipped my head for a second to look at the puck and looked up and had an elbow in my mouth,” Donato said. “It didn’t feel good.”
At the same moment, Ladislav Nagy was whistled for flattening Zapolski, who was slow to rise off the ice.
“Jammed my neck, pinched my nerves and just kind of lost feeling in my hands and feet for a bit,” Zapolski said. “It was a little bit of a scary thing for me.”
James Wisniewski, whose father Jim was quarantined with the norovirus at the Games, scored on the power play 18 seconds later for a 2-0 US edge and the rout was on.
“It shows how strong and how resilient a team we are,” Zapolski said.