January 23, 2016

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) For all her time basking in the leader's spotlight, Lindsey Vonn also has another, more lonely side these days.

After breaking Annemarie Moser-Proell's record for most World Cup downhill victories with her 37th in skiing's marquee event on Saturday, Vonn revealed that her recent purchase of a little puppy was made to combat depression.

Having split with boyfriend Tiger Woods last year and previously divorced from her husband of four years, Thomas, Vonn has found it challenging to keep her spirits up in between races as she travels across the Alps.

''It's really hard to be on the road. When I got divorced it was hard that season, but this year especially, I'm older and I'm only able to go home once this year,'' the 31-year-old Vonn said. ''I'm pretty lonely, to be honest, and it's been nice to have my dog. That's what I needed.''

She picked up the three-month-old cavalier king spaniel in Bologna and named her Lucy.

''I feel like sometimes when I have a bad day it's hard to go home,'' Vonn added. ''It's pretty depressing just to be alone. It's nice to have a friendly, smiling little puppy face excited for me to come home whether I win or lose.''

On Saturday, it was a big win.

Vonn beat Larisa Yurkiw of Canada by 0.28 seconds on the Olympia delle Tofane course - the same site where she eclipsed Moser-Proell's overall women's record of 62 victories a year ago - with a nearly flawless run amid windy conditions.

''It's pretty awesome,'' Vonn said. ''I was really nervous today, actually. I've won so much here, and there was just a lot of pressure. The more people talk about records the harder it is to break them.

''So I tried to stay focused on my skiing, and I thought I skied really well on the top. I went a little bit too straight on the bottom. But I was able to pull it off.''

Lara Gut of Switzerland finished third, 0.67 behind, and maintained a 10-point lead on Vonn in the overall standings. Vonn has seven wins this season to Gut's four.

''For sure, the total World Cup wins is more important but, at the same time, to be the best female downhill World Cup skier of all time is pretty freaking cool,'' Vonn said.

''Downhill has always been my favorite event. It's the fastest, it's the most adrenaline, it's just the most action. I love it. I love going fast. That's probably the biggest thing that attracts me to this sport and keeps me going back - because I want to go faster and faster.''

Moser-Proell, the Austrian great, set her record from 1971-80. Franz Klammer, another Austrian, holds the men's record with 25 downhill victories.

Vonn won her first downhill in 2004 - the same year she earned her first podium finish in Cortina.

''She was lucky with the wind but she deserves the record,'' said Austrian veteran Elisabeth Goergl, who finished 13th.

Vonn also matched retired Austrian Renate Goetschl with a record 10th win in Cortina.

It was Vonn's 74th win across all disciplines, moving her closer to Ingemar Stenmark's all-time mark - among men and women - of 86.

''No, no, no. Stop talking about Ingemar,'' Vonn said. ''I need to just focus on tomorrow, one race at a time. I can't start calculating the numbers because it just gets in my head and it makes it a lot harder than it needs to be.

''I just need to ski solid and not have any mistakes and then the results will come, and then the records will come. But you can't put the cart before the horse.''

Vonn increased her advantage at every checkpoint and averaged 98.71 kph (61 mph) down the twisty course, one of the most challenging on the women's circuit and recognized for the Tofane schuss - an imposing and dark chute through two walls of rock.

Vonn holds a 122-point lead over Yurkiw in the downhill standings, having won four of the five downhills this season.

Yurkiw, who raised her own funds for a one-person team, recorded her third consecutive podium in downhill.

Vonn can go for victory No. 75 in Sunday's super-G.


Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf

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