For Vonn, her legacy shouldn't be tarnished by a "DNF" in an event that she rarely enters anymore, and moreover, while this will nearly certainly be her last Olympics, Vonn's bronze medal in the downhill made her the oldest alpine skier to ever medal in the Olympics... and she did finish first in the downhill leg on Thursday.
Vonn's slalom lasted all of about 10 seconds before she went off-course, leaving Shiffrin in second place Thursday between two women from Switzerland: gold medalist Michelle Gisin and bronze medalist Wendy Holdener. She was skiing for her family, including her father who was not in Vancouver for her last Olympic run when the two were estranged.
Shiffrin's focus has been on slalom, where she became the youngest Olympic champion in the event four year ago.
"I never am the person that said I can't do something, or I've never thought of quitting because of an injury", Vonn said. She also said she wanted to win for her grandpa, who died in November.
Vonn said she sprayed parts of Don Kildow's ashes "just a few days ago" on a rock that she was told was special when she visited South Korea previous year to be named a Pyeongchang Olympic ambassador. She has jarred her back, fractured her humerus, broken her ankle, torn her right knee to ribbons, and even sliced open her thumb on a broken champagne bottle while celebrating a victory in Val d'Isère.
"I said, 'I wish one day I can be there racing at the top, '" Goggia said.
Yes, for years now, Vonn has been the standard by which all other female ski racers are judged - and judge themselves.
After Thursday's race, Vonn was given gifts by a group of elderly South Korean men as a token of gratitude for her grandfather's service. She has has three Olympic medals - a gold in the downhill in 2010, a bronze in the Super-G in 2010 and now the bronze in the 2018 downhill. "It's sad. It's my last downhill".
"It's a thrill and I also watch with the knowledge that it's a fleeting moment", said Tiger Shaw, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
"To be able to race for him in these Olympics was very special for me".
But Vonn offered some words of caution about Shiffrin, who for quite some time, fairly or not, has been labeled "The Next Lindsey Vonn". Her No. 1 rival - in her mind, and in the mind of many observers - is Italy's Sofia Goggia. "Ski racing is an individual sport".
"It's so rewarding. Of course I would have liked a gold medal but this is awesome and I am so proud", she told NBC after competing in Alpine skiing on Wednesday. "But you know I'm here and I'm on the Olympic podium again".
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