Lindsey Vonn, the best ski racer in American history, has won races, titles, Olympic medals, championships. But in her career, she had never won a World Cup giant slalom. Now she has, and in typical fashion.
She made history, and lots of it. She won despite being hurt -- coming back from a training crash, which throughout her career she has made something of a habit of. This time, it was a fall last Saturday.
After not being on her skis for a week, Vonn got back on them on Saturday in Solden, Austria, and ripped down the bottom part of the second of two runs to win the giant slalom in the World Cup season opener by four-hundredths of a second.
Her combined time: 2:24.43.
"It was a lot of relief, joy, excitement," she said. "You know, I kind of felt like the Olympics. I had been working so hard to finally get on the top step and I finally did it."
Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, the 2010 Vancouver Games champion in the event, finished second. Elisabeth Gorgl of Austria, was four-tenths of a second back in third.
Maria Hofl-Riesch of Germany, who defeated Vonn by a mere three points last season for the overall World Cup crown, finished 24th, 3.13 seconds behind.
Julia Mancuso of the United States finished 10th.
Vonn's win was one for many lines in the history books:
She became just the fifth woman to win a race in all five World Cup disciplines.
The others: Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg, Croatia's Janica Kostelic, Sweden's Anja Paerson and Austria's Petra Kronberger.
Vonn is only the second American to win all five disciplines, after Bode Miller.
The victory was Vonn's 42nd on the World Cup circuit, most-ever by an American.
It was the first American World Cup giant slalom win since 1991 (Julie Parisien, in Waterville Valley) and the first American World Cup giant slalom win in Europe since 1984 (Tamara McKinney, in Zwiesel).
It was the first American win in Soelden since Miller went back-to-back in 2003 and 2004. (The U.S. men race in Soelden on Sunday.)
The victory also moves Vonn into a tie with Paerson as the fourth-winningest woman in World Cup history.
Last season, Vonn used men's skis in only the downhill and the super-G. This year, she intends to use men's skis in all her events; she made the switch while training this summer.
"For me, it's faster," she said. "It's holding better on ice."
After Saturday's first run, Vonn was fourth. She was nearly nine-tenths out after the first split on the second run, then made the time up on the bottom.
Vonn is of course the World Cup overall champ in 2008, 2009 and 2010. It's a long, long season. But winning the first race, in a race that hadn't been your specialty but may now be -- that's a statement.
"What's important about today's result is that it gets me off to a quick and strong start," Vonn said. "Last year I really got off to a slow start, and while I came on strong at the end, I fell a little short.
"This summer when I was training I was really conscious of making sure I was prepared for the first events."