Vonn, Moser-Proell took different paths to same World Cup record
By winning a downhill Sunday, Lindsey Vonn matched the all-time record of 62 women’s World Cup wins that Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria set from 1970-80.
During that interval of more than three decades, ski racing has drastically changed. Material has improved, courses are better prepared and the professionalized sport has become more competitive.
Here is a closer look at the statistics behind Vonn’s and Moser-Proell’s shared record.
Road to glory: Vonn matched the record in her 15th season on the circuit and 332nd World Cup race. It took Moser-Proell only 11 seasons and 174 starts to get to 62 wins. Vonn has missed many races due to injury, most notably in the past two years. The American was already on 59 wins when she badly hurt her knee at the 2013 world championships.
Moser-Proell also missed a full season — voluntarily. She skipped the 1975-76 season to start a pub in her native village of Kleinarl, but returned the following year. Moser-Proell reached the podium in 65 percent of all races she competed in — compared to 32 percent for Vonn — and her number of wins would have likely been substantially higher if she hadn’t retired at age 26 after the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.
Slow starter: Compared to Moser-Proell, Vonn’s career got off to a slow start. Moser-Proell was just under 16 when she made her World Cup debut in January 1969 at a downhill in St. Gervais, France — and finished second. She needed only seven races to record her first win in January 1970 at a giant slalom in Maribor, Slovenia.
Vonn was 16 in her first race in December 2000 — a slalom in Park City, Utah. She needed 46 races for her first podium at a downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in January 2004, and landed her maiden victory in her 61st race at Lake Louise, Alberta, in December 2004. Vonn was 20 when she won her first race; at the same age, Moser-Proell had 27 wins.
Discipline matters: Though they share the same total of wins, Moser-Proell is ahead of Vonn in four of the five Alpine disciplines — 36-32 in downhill, 16-3 in giant slalom, 3-2 in slalom, and 7-5 in combined events. Vonn compensates for the deficit with 20 wins in super-G, a discipline that was only introduced two years after Moser-Proell ended her career in 1980.
Next record: Apart from moving to 63 victories for the outright lead in women’s World Cup wins, Vonn can chase three more records held by Moser-Proell. First, the American needs four more downhill wins to match the Austrian’s mark of 36. Also, Vonn has to win two more overall titles to equal Moser-Proell’s six. Finally, Moser-Proell is the only skier to have won five overall titles in a row, from 1971-75. Vonn has already been close to five straight overall titles. After winning three straight from 2008-2010, she was beaten by Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch by just three points after the last race of the season was canceled in 2011, before winning her fourth overall in five years in 2012.
Friends forever: Moser-Proell has always hoped her record would be broken one day. And she’s glad Vonn is the one who’s doing it. The two have met several times and get along well. In a recent documentary on Austrian national TV, Moser-Proell said about Vonn: "I like Lindsey Vonn for her uncomplicated character. And we don’t need to discuss her skiing — she’s just perfect." And Vonn about Moser-Proell: "She’s the greatest athlete in the history of ski racing."