Vonn at peace after trying yet stellar season

By Pat Graham

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 31 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"My job is to stand on the side on the hill, clap my hands and be supportive," Kildow said. "And that's what I'm going to do, as I've always done. I'm just a little closer now than in the past few years."

Kildow knew his daughter was capable of this type of season, where she flirted with Maier's record mark of 2,000 points.

Well, maybe not exactly like this, but a memorable season with everything coming together.

She even predicted it — in a way.

When Vonn was in third grade, she wrote an essay in which she proclaimed she was going to be an elite skier and win more Olympic gold medals than anybody else.

"She didn't say more World Cup races, because she didn't know about that," Kildow said. "She's a goal-oriented individual. She always has been. It's great to see her performing like this."

As for a possible name change for next season, Vonn quashed that notion, electing to stick with Vonn. It just felt right.

"Vonn is who I am. I've had the name for a while now," she said. "It's just a feeling I have. I think it would be weird for me to change it back. I'm a different person now than I was then. It's just a part of who I am now."

By any name, Vonn has been hard to beat.

She won an American record fourth World Cup crown this season, wrestling the title away from friend and chief rival Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany.

Even more, she placed second in the giant slalom standings, the best finish of her career and the event she's been working hard to improve.

"In general, Lindsey has always been amazing," Mancuso said. "But to pick it up in the GS, that was really impressive."

As longtime adversaries, Mancuso and Vonn have always maintained a very competitive relationship. This season, it changed as Mancuso provided a shoulder for Vonn when she went through the separation from her husband.

"Jules and I are getting along really well — the other girls on the team as well," Vonn said. "They're cheering for me in the finish and I'm cheering for them. It's never really happened that way for me.

"I feel like this is a new start. I feel like I have the same enthusiasm now as I did when I was a young kid. I've found a lot of peace on the slopes and I've really enjoyed it."

Reach out to AP Sports Writer Pat Graham on Twitter: http://twitter.com/pgraham34

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