Sofia Goggia became the first Italian to win the women’s downhill gold, with American Lindsey Vonn having to settle for bronze behind Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway.
Vonn’s dream of becoming a double Olympic downhill champion was dashed when she crossed the line 0.47 seconds behind Goggia, who set a time of 1:39.22 when fifth out the gates.
Mowinckel then pushed Vonn down into bronze when crossing the line just 0.09 seconds behind Goggia, with the Norwegian picking up her second silver of the Games after doing likewise in the giant slalom.
“I thought I skied well, well enough for a medal,” Vonn told Eurosport. “Everyone was attacking today and I gave it my best shot – it wasn’t quite good enough, but you know what, a medal is something to be proud of, and I’m proud of my performance.
“Ragnhild is an amazing competitor, and she has really been stepping up in the last few weeks. To watch her get silver in the super-g was really cool. She’s one of the nicest people on the World Cup, and she really deserved it. I’m really happy for her.
” Four years ago I was just out of surgery, so no, I’m really happy. Of course, I’m a competitor, and I always want to win, but you have to keep things in perspective. I’ve been through a lot and I’m proud of giving it my best.”
Meanwhile, reflecting on her gold-medal win, Goggia told Eurosport: “It was a really smart race. I was really focused on myself and what I had to do. The victory never depends on yourself, in part, as you have so many racers who can be faster and slower than you.
“I was really focused on my skiing and the essential things to do, and I think this was the secret behind my result.
“I stayed calm [when watching Mowinckel]. I really, truly hoped with my heart that she was not going to take away the gold.”
Having won downhill gold at Vancouver 2010, injury prevented Vonn from defending her title in Sochi four years later, and in the absence of Mikaela Shiffrin – who skipped the event due to scheduling conflicts – many predicted that Vonn’s bid for a second gold would be a straight shootout with Goggia.
And it was Goggia, who leads the 2018 World Cup standings in downhill, who looked to pose the question to Vonn when setting out fifth.
The Italian, chasing her first Olympic medal, bested Tina Weirather to move into first after crossing the line in 1:39.22 – and it was then all eyes on Vonn, who was seventh out the gate and hoping to topple her close friend’s time.
In what Vonn claimed would “most likely” be her final Olympic downhill race, the 33-year-old set off quickly, but lost pace in the middle of the run to finish almost half a second behind Goggia.
Going out 19th, Mowinckel then sandwiched herself between the esteemed pair, finishing just behind Goggia, having initially been in the green for the first three intermediates.
Mowinckel was shocked after crossing the line in second
Mowinckel was shocked after crossing the line in secondGetty Images
The result leaves Vonn, the most decorated female skier of all time, with one Olympic gold and two bronzes to her name, and she will hope to medal once again in the combined event on Thursday, in which Shiffrin is favourite.