Slovenia’s Tina Maze wins downhill |

Slovenia’s Tina Maze wins downhill

Lindsey Vonn, of the United States, smiles during an interview in the finish area following her run at the women's World Cup downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Lindsey Vonn is quickly getting up to speed, just not fast enough to catch up to Tina Maze in the women’s World Cup downhill opener on Friday.

The Slovenian standout finished in 1 minute, 50.98 seconds, beating Anna Fenninger of Austria by 0.45 seconds. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was third.

Vonn wound up in eighth place, 0.85 seconds behind the winning time, as she returned to the World Cup circuit following a second knee operation that kept her out of the Sochi Olympics. It was her first race since last December in Val d’Isere, France, where she failed to finish a downhill.

The four-time overall World Cup champion labeled her performance as “OK.”

That’s because this is a course Vonn typically dominates. Of her 59 career World Cup race victories, 14 have come at Lake Louise.

“I think I skied really well on the technical parts, and definitely can clean up some turns,” Vonn said. “It was a really solid start. I’m happy with it.”

The Americans had a strong showing by placing four skiers in the top nine. Laurenne Ross led the way as she took fourth, barely missing out on a podium spot. Julia Mancuso was seventh and Stacey Cook ninth.

“I didn’t really expect anything out of today, but it does feel good to come down and know I can be right in there with the best girls,” Ross said.

There’s another downhill race Saturday and a super-G competition Sunday.

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