By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 17 - Lindsey Vonn (pictured) became the first American woman to win the Olympic downhill title when she beat team-mate Julia Mancuso in Whistler today.

The 25-year-old from Minnesota, who won the World Championship downhill title last year and leads the World Cup standings in the downhill, Super-G and Super Combined, beat childhood rival Mancuso to give the United States a one-two finish in the blue riband women's event of these Games.

Vonn said: "This is the best day of my life."
Vonn shocked fans worldwide two days before the start of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games when she announced that she had suffered a shin injury.

Weather forced cancellation and delays that allowed Vonn to heal in time to race.

Mancuso, the 2006 Olympic Super-G champion and tenth down the hill took the early lead with a time of 1min 44.75sec, but Vonn beat her with an effort of 1:44.19.

Austrian Elisabeth Goergl took the bronze.

Vonn, the two-time defending World Cup overall champion who has won five downhill races on the elite circuit this season, missed out in Turin four years ago, a crash in downhill training seeing her airlifted off the mountain.

Vonn said: "I dreamed about what this would feel like but it is much better in real life.

"I got what I came here for - a gold medal.

"I have what I want and I’ll just keep fighting every day.

"My leg was killing me,

"I was tired and I didn’t know what to expect at the bottom.

"That last gate before the last jump was where I lost the World Cup.

"I’m so happy I made it down."

Many skiers had difficulty with the Franz's run course, with a number of falls, including one involving Sweden's Anja Pärson, the seven-time world champion.

Pärson misjudged the final jump coming into the finishing area, going too high and landing awkwardly, requiring several minutes medical attention, although fortunately she did not suffer any serious injury.

Weather and snow conditions played havoc with scheduling, forcing delays and cancellation of training runs.

Eventually, the women did get a day of training, running the course in two sections.

Britain's Chemmy Alcott finished 13th

She said: "It is an absolutely awesome downhill.

"It’s the perfect women’s downhill, the best I’ve ever skied.

"And today Mother Nature did us a favour as well with the conditions.

"It’s bumpy, it’s icy and it’s great fun.

"You look at this and you think to yourself ‘this is what we do this sport for’.

"I lost a bit of time at the top in the soft stuff, and that affected my run.

"I think I could have gone quicker but I made a few silly mistakes.

"But it’s the Chemmy way - I went for it totally and when you ski like that, it’s hard to avoid a couple of tiny slips.

"It’s always like that with me.

"It was an awesome experience."

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