GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AFP) - US ski queen Lindsey Vonn chalked up her 80th World Cup win on Saturday (Feb 3) with downhill victory at Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the third straight year - just days before the Winter Olympics.
Vonn, 33, clocked 1min 12.84sec, just 0.02 secs faster than World Cup downhill leader Sofia Goggia, who finished second.
Austria's Cornelia Huetter was third at 0.13 sec back on a shortened course due to warm temperatures in the Bavarian Alps at the start of the week.
Vonn is closing in on Ingemar Stenmark's all-time alpine record of 86 World Cup wins.
"It's a big number," said Vonn of her 80th victory. "I remember when I got my 50th win here, I never thought I would get close to Annemarie Moser-Proell's record (of 62 wins).
"Now I am getting closer to Stenmark's. I am so thankful that I have gotten myself in a position to get these wins coming into the Olympics.
"I feel strong mentally and physically. I never thought I would get 80 wins - it's a big day."
Vonn has the chance for another victory in a second downhill on Sunday, the final tune-up before the Olympics open in Pyeongchang on Thursday.
A doubleheader had been planned for Saturday but warm temperatures in the Bavarian Alps meant the second race was moved back a day.
Vonn's victory was overshadowed by injury to US team-mate Jacqueline Wiles, who was stretchered off the course after a bad crash.
It was later confirmed that Wiles is out of the Olympics with a torn cruciate knee ligament and broken tibial and fibula bones in her leg.
'HARD TO BE HAPPY'
"It was really hard to be happy and to celebrate with Jackie in hospital," said Vonn, who grimaced when Wiles crash.
While American Breezy Johnson finished fourth, crashes by US skiers Laurenne Ross and Wiles worried Vonn.
"It was a rough day for the whole team," said Vonn.
"I am happy Laurenne wasn't hurt, she'll be sore, but at least her knee is okay.
"It was great to see Breezy get fourth, we are capable of all getting on the podium, we just hope Jackie is okay."
This was Vonn's fourth downhill win in Garmisch after wins here in 2012, as well as in 2016, 2017 and now 2018.
"It feels like I am racing in the States when I am here," she said after vocal crowd support with a US Army base in the town.
Vonn plans to go even faster in Sunday's second downhill race, on the full-length course, in the last World Cup event before the Olympics.
"I'm looking forward to skiing on the full track and getting a little bit more speed tomorrow," said Vonn.
The women's Olympic alpine programme starts with the giant slalom on Feb 12 while the downhill - the blue-riband event - is on Feb 21.
Vonn won downhill gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, but missing Sochi four years ago with injury.
She put in an impressive display on the Kandahar course, shaving fractions of a second off Goggia's time at the first two time checks.
She was 0.08 behind at the third, but picked up speed on the lower section of the course, where her rivals had slowed, to claim her milestone win in style.
Vonn's career stats are all the more impressive given her injuries - a fractured arm in November 2016 having broken her ankle the previous August.
Goggia took delight in her rival's performance and celebrated with Vonn, who is just 43 points behind in the downhill rankings.
"We don't know each other that well, but it's really fun to race with her," said the 25-year-old Goggia.
"After all she has been through, I am pleased for her."
Vonn also enjoys the competition.
"Whenever she is racing, she gives 100 percent, and she is always risking everything," Vonn said of Goggia.
"It is all or nothing with her and I like that."