She won the parallel giant slalom at the world snowboard championships last March. Austria's Marcel Hirscher will race for his third gold medal in PyeongChang. She knew that mistake probably would be fatal to her medal hopes.
Vonn has dedicated these Olympics to her grandfather, Don Kildow, who died in November. NBC broadcasters repeatedly mentioned that the skier had been waiting eight years for a roughly 100-second race.
"I'm proud to have competed for my country", Vonn said, "I'm proud to have given it my all".
"It's tough to contemplate this being my last Olympic downhill". Vonn added that shes takes "the Olympics very seriously" and wants to represent the country in a way she said many people now in the government now do not.
Lindsey Vonn prefers not to dwell on what shapes up as a significant story line for the women's downhill at the Pyeongchang Games. "That's what bullies want you to do", Vonn told reporters before her downhill race."I stand by my values, I'm not going to back down".
"I feel like I'm playing Russian roulette", Vonn said of the combined event.
The skier also won a gold medal during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games on a downhill event. Barring more injuries, she should break the World Cup record for victories next season. "But, I mean, honestly, this is awesome, and I'm so proud".
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"My opinions haven't changed, I've just chosen to focus on my sport right now and after these races, when there's a good opportunity where I can make a positive impact, then I will speak up again".
Barring a miracle comeback, this is nearly certainly the last Olympics for Vonn, whose pro career includes a streak of dominance from 2007 to 2012, when she mixed four overall championships with one second-place finish.
Snowboard specialist Ledecka has never finished on the podium in World Cup alpine events, her best result being a seventh-placed finish in the downhill past year.
Vonn said she would now ignore the criticism, at least until after the Games.
Starting seventh in the field of 39 racers, Vonn hit speeds of almost 70 miles per hour as she scorched down the mountain.
Vonn will have another shot to medal in the downhill. "But I am happy, solid training". I love ski racing.
That shock result in the discipline she won in Sochi four years ago at just 18 and which she has dominated on the World Cup circuit punctured the hype over her potential assault on five gold medals in Pyeongchang.