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Lindsey Vonn Wins Bronze In Downhill At Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

Feb 21, 2018
Originally published on February 21, 2018 5:10 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To Pyeongchang now and the comeback of skier Lindsey Vonn. The downhill champion couldn't compete at the Sochi Olympics because of an injury, so this was supposed to be her big moment, her big games. There's been a ton of pressure on her to try to bring home another gold in her signature event, the downhill race. But yesterday, she missed it by about half a second. Here's NPR's Melissa Block.

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: Under bright sun and thankfully little wind, the time to beat was set early by Italian skier Sofia Goggia.

(CHEERING)

BLOCK: Goggia needed just over 1:39 to swoosh down the mountain at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre, attacking the course, she said, like a samurai. And soon...

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Come on, Lindsey.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Come on.

BLOCK: ...It was Vonn's turn. Downhill is her best event, and even Goggia considered Vonn the favorite to win gold. It wasn't to be. Vonn was in second place after her run but was bumped down to third after a strong finish by Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel. So bronze for Vonn, her third career Olympic medal. Afterwards, she said she had laid it all on the line. And she talked emotionally about her late grandfather, who died in November.

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LINDSEY VONN: I wanted desperately to win for him today, and I didn't do that, but I won a bronze. And I think he would still be proud of me.

BLOCK: Vonn is 33. And over the years, her body has taken a severe beating in her sport - broken bones, torn ligaments, concussions.

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VONN: I've never thought of quitting because of an injury, but it's taken its toll. And that's why I can't keep ski racing, you know.

BLOCK: A knee injury forced her to sit out the last Winter Olympics, so she's waited eight years for this one.

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VONN: But that's what makes life interesting. And that's what makes you appreciate all of the moments like this because I've been through the hard times, because I have a huge metal rod in my right arm. That makes me a stronger person, and I wouldn't change it. I would like to have a little less pain.

BLOCK: Vonn is now the oldest female medalist in Olympic alpine skiing. As she put it, I'm 33. In ski-racing age, I'm over the hill.

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VONN: I wish I could keep going. I wish this wasn't my last Olympics, but it is. So I'm trying to accept that and deal with the emotions of that and enjoy the ride.

BLOCK: Lindsey Vonn has been subjected to a torrent of online hate and abuse after she said she would absolutely not visit the Trump White House with other Olympians. To the trollers, the bronze medalist had this message.

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VONN: I'm not beaten. I'm standing on the podium. And, to me, I feel like I won a gold medal.

BLOCK: As for the new Olympic champion, Sofia Goggia, she had nothing but superlatives for her downhill rival.

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SOFIA GOGGIA: She has 81 victories. I have four, five with this. (Laughter) She's unbelievable. She is the greatest.

BLOCK: Goggia made history herself here. With her gold medal, she is Italy's first female downhill champion. After the race, she knelt down and kissed the snow. Melissa Block, NPR News, Pyeongchang.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOLLOWED BY GHOSTS' "NOOSEPAPER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.