A positive sign was the way Vonn, 34, spoke about still being a contender in the downhill on Sunday, in what will be the final race of her storied career.
“Don’t count me out,” said Vonn, the winner of 82 World Cup races, a record for female skiers. “I’ve got one more chance. Maybe I’ll pull off a miracle, maybe I won’t.”
On a course that was shortened because of strong winds on Tuesday, Vonn was typically aggressive from the start, despite the persistent pain in both of her knees that is forcing her into retirement.
Shiffrin, a more technical racer, also took risks that yielded complications. She veered off line on the lower section of the course, flailed her arms midair to slow down and narrowly cleared the next gate, clipping it with her side.
The mistake occurred right in front of the head coach of the United States team, Paul Kristofic.
“She flew far and slightly off to the left and had to make a fairly significant correction,” Kristofic told The Associated Press. “Not many people can do that, but she showed the world that she can — and not only just to recover from the mistake but to carry as much speed out of it and keep your head in the game.”
Perhaps it explained Shiffrin’s reaction after seeing her time. She crouched over and held her hands to her face in disbelief.
“This is crazy,” Shiffrin said. “I really wasn’t expecting this.”
Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic champion, is now a four-time world champion and a five-time medalist at the worlds. She also has 56 World Cup victories, which put her 26 behind Vonn on the career list and 30 behind the men’s record-holder, Ingemar Stenmark.