Lindsey Vonn didn't just win her 43rd World Cup race Friday. She absolutely dominated.
She won the downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, up in Canada, by 1.95 seconds. That's crazy.
Alpine skiing is typically decided by tenths or even hundredths of a second. Bode Miller won the Birds of Prey World Cup downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., Friday by four-hundredths of a second. That made it a banner day for the U.S. Ski Team; the last time there was a double downhill American win was on Dec. 3, 2004, again by Bode and Lindsey. His win Friday was fantastic. Hers -- simply outrageous.
It has to be said: The other racers on the tour are, like, really good, too.
Lichtenstein's Tina Weirather, skiing from the back of the back -- bib number 40 -- was the only racer to come within two seconds of Vonn. Dominique Gisin of Switzerland, who had put up Thursday's fastest training run, was 2.06 seconds back for third place.
Vonn's winning time over the 3,068-meter course: 1:53.19.
Another American, Alice McKennis, competing in her first World Cup race since breaking her leg last year, finished eighth.
At every ski race, there's a live timing system set up so that you can follow along. It lets you see not only whether a particular racer is ahead or behind of the leader at certain intervals but also just how fast each racer is going.
Lindsey Vonn started 22nd Friday. That's an ideal start spot. On purpose, alpine racing officials group the best skiers from roughly the 16th to 22nd start slots.
That means Lindsey knew going down what her chief rivals had done.
She also knew this particular course like the back of her hand. She has seen more success here than anywhere else on tour -- before Friday, winning eight races and standing on the podium 14 times.
At the same time, it was windy out there. "I could feel the wind heavily when I was skiing," Lindsey would say later, adding, "I just tried to ski as aggressively as I could."
At the first interval Friday, she was already four-tenths of a second ahead. At the second, she was 1.07 seconds up. The first speed clock got her going 124.8 kilometers per hour, or 77.5 miles per hour. That's on ice, not snow; ice is how the World Cup surfaces are set up.
At interval three, her lead was 1.22 seconds. At interval four, 1.35.
The second speed clock got her going 127.9 kph, or 79.5 mph.
Think about that for just a moment. At that point in the course, she already had been skiing for 80 seconds. She had about 30 seconds yet to go. This is the point where other racers start to give in; their legs start to burn and they start slowing down.
Not Lindsey Vonn. The clock proved it. She was going faster on the bottom of the hill than on top.
Think again about what she was doing. Think about driving your car on ice at 79.5 miles per hour, about what the sensation of that would be like. Now think about that would be like without being inside the heated comfort of the drivers' cockpit -- the split-second decision-making, the rush of the trees by your eyes, the slash of your skis through the ice, the whip of the cold wind on your face.
At interval five, her lead was up to 1.89 seconds. At the finish, it was 2.06, over Gissin. Weirather, 18 spots later, had yet to come.
The 1.95-second margin is by far the most Vonn has ever won by. She said she had won once by 1.2 seconds -- in Lake Louise, of all places.
She said a moment later, a little laugh in her voice, "It was awesome."
It was, and all the more so because of what's going on in her personal life -- the recently announced split from her husband, Thomas. Her sister, Karin Kildow, came to Lake Louise to be there for her. Her U.S. teammates were being so supportive, she made a point of saying; so was Maria Hoefl-Riesch, her longtime friend; so were "the entire World Cup girls."
Even so, just to be out there on the Lake Louise course Friday was probably the very best thing for Lindsey Vonn.
"When I'm on my skis and I'm on the mountain," she said, "I feel calm and I feel comfortable. I love skiing. I love going fast. I love downhill. Today, even if I didn't win, just racing and being out on the mountain is what I need."
But, she was asked at that news conference -- to win by such a huge margin?
This is the secret to Lindsey Vonn's success -- and, for those expecting magic, it's so elemental. It's hard work and ferocious drive, all of which she made abundantly plain in one of the most incredible performances you would ever want to see in a nearly two-second victory at Lake Louise, Alberta:
"I try to work hard every day. I try to do my best every day. I always want to try to improve. Even if I win a race, I still want to improve. I think it's just that I am never satisfied. That keeps me motivated and keeps me wanting to do my best every day."