Vonn 'emotional' as she begins injury-hit final season in Cortina

Cortina d'Ampezzo (Italy) (AFP) –


American speed queen Lindsey Vonn conceded it was with a lot of emotion she was preparing to open her injury-delayed final season at Cortina d'Ampezzo as she continues her push to close in on Ingemar Stenmark's long-time record of World Cup wins.

Vonn -- who has 82 World Cup wins to her name -- was due to make her comeback last weekend in St Anton after she injured her knee in a training crash in November.

But the downhill and Super G races in the Austrian resort were called off due to heavy snowfall.

So instead the 34-year-old returns in the Italian Dolomites where she has racked up 12 World Cup wins -- six downhill and six super G.

"I was hoping this last season would be different, starting with Lake Louise (the curtain-raising event she was forced to abandon following injury)," Vonn told a press conference on Wednesday with her dog Lucy on her lap.

"Nothing in life seems to happen like I want. I'm just going to play the cards I'm dealt."

Vonn will compete in downhill races on Friday and Saturday and the super-G on Sunday.

"My coach wasn't happy about my skiing in St Anton, it being cancelled just gave me the chance to train more," she continued.

"If there's a place, minus Lake Louise, that I could make a return then I think Cortina would be number one on my list.

"I want to really enjoy my last time in Cortina. I'm very excited, of course, but I’m here to win same as ever."

- 'Determined' -

Vonn earned her first World Cup podium in Cortina back in 2004 and she broke the all-time women's wins record with her 63rd in the Dolomites resort in 2015, watched by her then-boyfriend Tiger Woods.

"I have the determination to continue for many years but my body is not on the same page as me. Unfortunately this is my last chance down the Tofana.

"It's kind of a lot to process, a lot going on. I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can without getting to stressed out.

"I love it here. Maybe in my old age maybe I'm getting more emotional."

Vonn is currently four adrift of Swede Ingemar Stenmark's record of 86 World Cup wins.

"I never had the dream (record). My dream was of the Olympics. The question came up here after the 63rd win," she said.

"It was something I never thought would be even remotely achievable. You shoot for the stars and hopefully you get something."