Down goes Lindsey! Vonn falls near slalom finish, no medal

If Lindsey Vonn is going to win a second gold medal at the Winter Olympics, it will have to wait. The world's top skier fell and was disqualified Thursday during the slalom portion of the women's super combined event at Whistler. She had been leading after the downhill run earlier in the day, but a tough opening section of the slalom appeared to have her headed toward a silver medal before the fall. Germany's Maria Riesch, Vonn's best friend and longtime rival, had put the pressure on one run earlier with a blazing time; the world's No. 2 ranked skier was the eventual winner of the event.

Julia Mancuso of the United States won silver, her second of the Games. She is now the most decorated female skier in Olympic history.

Vonn led by 0.33 seconds after the downhill, but she had lost most of that lead before the first split of the slalom. By the second split she was 0.18 behind. Seemingly aware that the gold was slipping away, Vonn pushed it a little too hard, taking each gate with less caution. She was skiing for gold, not silver.

The gamble didn't pay off.

Near the bottom of the course, Vonn clipped a gate, caught her right ski on the ground, and fell forward. She was immediately disqualified for failing to pass through the markers.

Only Vonn knows how much her shin was affecting her Thursday, but blaming that injury for the fall would be a cop-out. It was good enough to hold up for a gold medal downhill run on Wednesday and another top time in the downhill Thursday. And if she had skied a less aggressive race, the shin would have been healthy enough to win a silver medal.

That's not meant to be a criticism of Vonn's strategy though. She's the best in the world precisely because she takes those kinds of risks.

It's a disappointing end to an event she'd led, but it's not the end of the Olympic road for Vonn. She skis three more times and is the prohibitive favorite in Saturday's super-G.

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