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Vonn set to compete in downhill with conditions near-perfect

There's no snow in the sky in Whistler, and just a few clouds, so conditions should be close to perfect when the women's downhill - the first women's Alpine race of the Vancouver Olympics - finally gets under way at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST). Some highlights from the start list.

2nd - Chemmy Alcott, Great Britain: One of the best friends of American Julia Mancuso is skiing for a ski federation that is officially went bankrupt a week before the Olympics began.

4th - Stacey Cook, USA: One of only two skiers to attempt the first training run last week, Cook wiped out and had to be taken off the mountain by helicopter. She suffered no major injuries, and is back to compete in her second Olympics. She was 19th in the downhill in 2006.

6th - Britt Janyk, Canada: Skiing on her home mountain, Janyk will try to overcome recent struggles in the downhill. She won a World Cup downhill race in 2007 but hasn't been back on the podium since.

10th - Julia Mancuso, USA: The 2006 Olympic gold medalist in the giant slalom has battled injuries for two years, and some question her fitness. But she is skiing well here. Her best finish in six World Cup downhills this year is eighth, but she was third - her last downhill podium - when a World Cup race was held on this mountain in 2008.

12th - Nadia Styger, Switzerland: Fifth in the Olympic downhill in 2006, Styger has struggled in the discipline this season, with only one finish better than 12th. But she won the World Cup downhill at Whistler two years ago.

16th - Lindsey Vonn, USA: The prohibitive favorite, even with the shin bruise that has caused such consternation here. Vonn has won five of the six World Cup downhills this season - the only stumble being in the most recent race, in which she finished sixth. She posted the fastest time in the first portion of training Monday despite her shin, and her performance Wednesday could shed some light on how she'll do over the next 10 days.

17th - Emily Brydon, Canada: Probably the home country's best chance, the British Columbia native finished third and second in a pair of World Cup downhills last December in Lake Louise, Alberta. The 29-year-old is planning on retiring after the season.

21st - Anja Paerson, Sweden: Would challenge Vonn and Marie Riesch in a rating of the most well-rounded skiers here. Paerson won gold in the slalom and bronze in both the combined and the downhill in 2006, and she comes here on fire, with seven podium finishes in her last 12 races across all disciplines. Her lowest finish in a World Cup downhill this season: sixth.

22nd -- Maria Riesch, Germany: Vonn's best friend could also ruin her Olympics. The winner of the only World Cup downhill Vonn didn't win this season, Riesch was second to Vonn twice this year and third two more times. She's a stronger technical skier, if Riesch ends up with gold Wednesday, it could mean a huge Olympics is at hand.

23rd - Alice McKennis, USA: The youngest member of the American team, the 20-year-old McKennis will make her Olympic debut. She has two top-10 finishes in downhill in her young career and enters the race as a coach's choice.

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 17, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  Lindsey Vonn , Skiing , Vancouver 2010  
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