Nathan Bilow, Associated Press
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Lindsey Vonn felt a sense of relief and regret right after winning her first World Cup race in the United States.
Relief about earning the super-G win on Wednesday, and regret that it's only a one-time deal.
Upon crossing the finish line and seeing her time, Vonn pumped her ski poles in jubilation, which riled up the raucous hometown crowd even more.
"One of my best races of my career," Vonn said, who is from nearby Vail. "Getting a chance to win at home, with a home crowd here, it's just more than I could've expected."
Usually reserved for the men, the challenging Birds of Prey course hosted its first women's race and Vonn turned in a dominating performance. She finished in a time of 1 minute, 10.68 seconds, holding off Fabienne Suter of Switzerland by 0.37 seconds. Anna Fenninger of Austria was third.
Vonn has been focused despite recently announcing she is getting a divorce. She's won four straight races since breaking the news late last month.
The 27-year-old Vonn had plenty of support Wednesday as some kids were let out of school for this rare occasion. It's not often the women's World Cup circuit is this close to Vail. But a lack of snow in Val d'Isere, France, forced the International Ski Federation to move the super-G to this venue.
Instantly, that brought about jitters. She had so many family and friends in the stands that she didn't want to disappoint.
"In the start, I was probably the most nervous I've ever been," Vonn said. "It wasn't my best run. I almost went off course a couple of times, but I was able to charge on the bottom and make up some time."
While Vonn's 46th World Cup win moved her into a tie with Austria's Renate Goetschl for third on the career list, she will remember this victory more for finally breaking through in Colorado.
Julia Mancuso of the U.S. finished eighth, 1.48 seconds behind Vonn, while Leanne Smith wound up 11th.
Before stepping on the top step of the podium at the post-race ceremony, Vonn dropped to a knee with her skis in her hand and struck a prayer pose. She was simply joining the "Tebowing" craze.
Out of respect for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, though, she asked his brother, who was at the race, if it would be disrespectful.
Vonn was given the green light.
"I said that if I won in Colorado, or at home, that I would do it," she said. "Go Broncos. I did it. Got to represent."
These days, nothing slows Vonn down — not even an unfamiliar course. The only time she's ever skied this hill was when she side-slipped the course during the 1999 championships as a teenager.
The course was tamed down a little bit for the women's race as the skiers went around the famed Golden Eagle jump. Vonn was bummed when she heard about the course switch, but quickly shrugged it off.
Just like her turmoil away from the slopes.
There were those who wondered how Vonn would do without her husband, Thomas Vonn, serving as an adviser and personal coach. But a network of family, friends, coaches and teammates has stepped in and supported her through a difficult time.
Being on the hill has become her escape, the one place where she can tune everything out and just concentrate on what she does best — ski fast.
In Lake Louise last weekend, Vonn cleaned up, winning two downhill races and a super-G.
She carried that confidence over to Colorado.
"I wanted to win at home so badly," Vonn said. "There are so many reasons why today is so special."
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