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Vonn Aims For Gold Again After Record U.S. Day

Lindsey Vonn of the United States speeds to the finish in the women's downhill at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia.
Tom Curley
Lindsey Vonn of the United States speeds to the finish in the women's downhill at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia.

Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn hopes to add a second gold medal Thursday in Vancouver after three golds went to the U.S. team Wednesday, part of the best-ever single day for Americans at a Winter Olympics.

A day after she won the downhill despite a painful shin injury, Vonn prepares for the super-combined — a downhill followed by a slalom run. Wednesday's victory came the same day that snowboarder Shaun White and speedskater Shani Davis also claimed gold.

"I got the gold medal that I came here to get. And now I'm just going to attack every day, with no regrets and no fear," said Vonn. "And, I mean, I'm just happy with one. Anything else from here on out is a bonus."

A silver and two bronze medals on Wednesday added to the U.S. cache, making it the best-ever single day for the Americans at a Winter Olympics, topping the five medals earned Feb. 20, 2002, in Salt Lake City.

On Wednesday, Vonn exploded from the gate hoping to turn things around after failing to medal in the last two Winter Olympics even as she has dominated the World Cup circuit, winning more races than anyone. Just two weeks ago, a severely bruised shin threatened to keep her out of the Vancouver Games.

After the start, Vonn built a quick lead. At one point, it seemed she might lose control, but she regained her form and kept charging toward the finish. A small bump just before the finish cost her a fraction, but she still wound up winning by 0.56 seconds.

At the finish, she pumped her arms in the air.

"I fought the whole way down," she said. "It wasn't a perfect run. I attacked, and I made it down."

"When I made it through that last jump I just was thinking I hope I did it, I hope I did it," she said. "And then when I crossed the finish line ... I saw my name, No. 1, and I was just completely overwhelmed."

Vonn's husband, Thomas, told reporters the adrenaline of the Olympics — and some lidocaine — helped his wife ski through the pain.

"This is probably the bumpiest course I've ever run," she said. "I think that's the worst thing you can have for a shin injury and so, but I was focused and determined and just tried not to think about it."

Vonn's teammate, Julia Mancuso, who won gold in the giant slalom in 2006 but had been hindered by injuries ever since, was a surprise silver medalist on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Davis and White became the third and fourth American men to win an event in back-to-back games.

Davis became the first speedskater to win the men's 1,000 meters twice, while teammate Chad Hedrick — who took home three medals at the 2006 games — earned a bronze in the event. The two seemed to have put behind them a high-profile feud at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

"All that stuff that was done before, man, that is old news," Hedrick said. "I just hope people will look at us in a different light and think, man, those guys are good athletes, rather than wondering who wants to fight with who."

On the U-shaped halfpipe, the redheaded White clinched victory, scoring a 48.4 on the final run, even though he was already assured of defending his Olympic title with a score of 46.8 on his first trip. Then he offered up a victory lap of sorts, adding his signature Double McTwist 1260 — 3 1/2 twists and two flips — just to please the crowd.

"I remember coming around and [thinking], 'You better get this and you got it,' and I don't know — I made it happen," said White.

"I wanted a victory lap that would be remembered," he said. "I achieved that."

Scotty Lago took bronze to give the United States multiple medals on the halfpipe for the past three Olympics.

On Thursday, female snowboarder Kelly Clark will try to match the gold medal won Wednesday night by White. Clark already has one Olympic victory — from 2002 in Salt Lake City. She fell during a finals run in 2006 but still took fourth place.

From NPR's Howard Berkes and Quinn O'Toole, and wire services

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