Austria's Ramona Siebenhofer

The FIS Alpine World Cup is the highest level of skiing in the world. American star Lindsey Vonn knows this and returned to the slopes with a 15th-place finish in Friday’s Downhill and ninth in Saturday’s Downhill.

“I always have the highest hope,” she said after Friday’s race, “that it’s easy to come back and get on the podium, but things have to go my way. I didn’t execute as I had hoped so therefore I didn’t have the best result.”

American Laurenne Ross had her best finish of the season on Friday, finishing ninth.

Vonn improved on Saturday, but her return from injury has not been pain-free. “I think it was still an improvement, but not what I’m looking for. It’s just hard sometimes when it’s bumpy to trust my right leg, and I still have a lot of pain, so I’m fighting through it the best I can, but I just have to find a faster way through it.”

After Saturday’s run, she said “In the middle section, where it’s really wavy, it’s hard for me to trust myself, and trust my skiing. I haven’t skied downhill since November, so it was a bit of a stretch to just come back and just jump right into the podium.

“It definitely hurts every time I push on my leg. It is what it is, and I’ll take it as a step in the right direction and tomorrow is another chance.”

Sunday’s race is a Super-G, which will include fellow American and overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin, trying to extend her lead in an event where she has had surprising success.

The two Downhills in Cortina were dominated by Austrian skiers, notably 27-year-old Ramona Siebenhofer, who won her first two World Cup golds with sterling runs in both races. Siebenhofer had never won more than a bronze medal in nine years on the tour previously, but finished ahead of another star returning from injury this season, Ilka Stuhec (SLO) on Friday.

She repeated her win on Saturday, with Stuhec third and Austrian teammate Nicole Schmidhofer taking the silver medal. Summaries through Saturday:

FIS Alpine World Cup
Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA) ~ 18-20 January 2019
(Full results here)

Women’s Downhill I: 1. Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT), 1:15.44; 2. Ilka Stuhec (SLO), 1:15.84; 3. Stephanie Venier (AUT), 1:15.90; 4. Corinne Suter (SUI), 1:15.91; 5. Romane Miradoli (CFRA), 1:15.98. Also in the top 25: 9. Laurenne Ross (USA), 1:16.23; … 15. Lindsey Vonn (USA), 1:16.63; … 22. Alice Merryweather (USA), 1:16.88.

Women’s Downhill II: 1. Siebenhofer (AUT), 1:36.22; 2. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT), 1:36.26; 3. Stuhec (SLO), 1:36.73; 4. Kira Weidle (GER), 1:36.85; 5. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER), 1:37.38. Also in the top 25: 9. Vonn (USA), 1:37.58; … 20. Ross (USA), 1:38.02.