"She could ski for another 10 years and have a lot more medals and a lot more World Cup wins".
Vonn's presence added plenty of intrigue and suspense to Thursday's race.
Speaking of counting, Marit Bjoergen has had to do plenty of it during her Olympic career.
Michelle Gisin of Switzerland took gold after completing the downhill in 1 minute, 40.14 seconds, then cruising in slalom (40.76) to combine for an aggregate time of 2:20.90.
"I'm on the Olympic podium for probably the last time and I'm so grateful", the tearful Vonn told CBC in an interview in Pyeongchang.
The combined, the last individual ski race of the 2018 Winter Games, was their only head-to-head match-up in South Korea. Vonn thrashed through the next three gates, trying to straighten out, but the momentum was lost and she skied into second place, four tenths behind Goggia. But she recovered much of it over the final dozen or so gates, accelerating where the snow felt better and the finish line drew closer. After strong winds delayed the start of the women's Alpine competitions, she finally made her PyeongChang debut on February 14 in the giant slalom.
"She's always a person that I've admired and if there's someone that's going to beat me, I'm happy that it's her because I know she's worked her tail off and she's put in the time to get there". In that respect, asking her to compete with the world's best in the super combined was a house-money situation.
"It's wonderful to be on the podium with two such awesome skiers", she said. This streak began with Day 14 of the 2010 Vancouver Games.
But then came Holdener's team-mate Gisin, who ripped down a near-faultless run to leapfrog Shiffrin by nearly a second. Bode Miller, commentating for NBC after retiring from racing last fall, grimly noted her isolation.
Shiffrin's signature event is the slalom.
Goggia gave a shrug after crossing the line knowing that Vonn, the most decorated female skier of all time, was going to be going out two spots behind her. "She needed to go for it a little bit more, " Kildow said. For Lindsey Vonn, the goal is a controlled run that will keep her there.
BC-OLY-SKI-Women's Combined, 1st Ld-Writethru, 668Vonn leads, Shiffrin in mix after downhill leg of combinedAP Photo OLYAL126, OLYAL127, OLYAL133, OLYAL131, OLYAL129Eds: Updates with more detail. Shiffrin is wired differently.
"There was never competition".
But despite that, Shiffrin has set up the ideal story for Beijing's Winter Games in 2022. "I wanted to win so much because of him", she said.
But Gisin, a versatile skier - although one without any World Cup wins this year - combined a third in the downhill with a fourth in the slalom, good enough for a win by almost a second.
In the aftermath of Thursday's race, with the Pyeongchang Olympics entering its final weekend, Vonn and Shiffrin were each trying to take measure of their experience here. The torch was passed.
Rydzek finished with an overwhelming 52.7-second advantage as the Germans won.
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