If you read the news, you already know this much: Tiger Woods went to a ski race the other day. What you might have missed amid the tabloid frenzy over Woods’ missing tooth and skeleton mask is the monumental event that took place on the Super-G course in Cortina, Italy: Lindsey Vonn became the winningest women’s ski racer in history with 63 World Cup victories.
Vonn’s record-breaking victory in Super-G came just a day after she won the Downhill in Cortina. That victory put her even with Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Proell, who held the record of 62 World Cup wins for 35 years. Vonn now has four World Cup wins on the season. She also won the Downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, and Val d’Isere, France.
That an American is now the all-time leader in World Cup victories is significant for ski racing in the United States. Ski racing has traditionally been dominated by Europeans, and the vast majority of World Cup stops take place in Europe. With her torrid start to the 2014-15 season, Vonn also sent notice that she is the woman to beat when the World Alpine Championships come to Beaver Creek in February.
Woods surprised Vonn, his girlfriend of two years, by showing up in support of her record-breaking campaign. But perhaps Woods was able to find some inspiration of his own. With her Super-G victory, Vonn accomplished something Woods has been highly criticized for not being able to do: She recovered from a pair of knee surgeries, returned to form, and put together a string of victories that rewrote her sport’s record books. Woods needs five major victories to eclipse Jack Nicklaus’s all time record of 18, but has not won one since having his knee surgically repaired just days after winning the 2008 U.S. Open.
Vonn, conversely, crushed any pressure on her before it had a chance to mount. She has won four of eight World Cup races since her comeback started in December. “I just feel lighter now that the record is broken,” Vonn says on the F.I.S. official website. “I have a lot less pressure on me. I can just ski my best.”
Don’t expect Vonn to sit back and be content as the women’s record holder. After missing out on the Sochi Olympics last winter, the 30-year-old has set her sights on the 2018 Winter Games. Assuming she can stay healthy and in form, she is also within striking distance of Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time World Cup record of 86 victories.
Vonn and Red Bull Media House produced a documentary about her comeback, called The Climb, which will air on NBC on January 25, at 3:00 EST. For more reading, here’s the Associated Press story about Vonn’s record on ESPN.