By Steve Keating
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (Reuters) - American Lindsey Vonn continued to reign supreme in the Canadian Rockies on Friday by rocketing to her sixth World Cup downhill win at Lake Louise in as many years.
Charging through a steady snowfall that forced officials to lower the start, Vonn clocked one minute 26.13 seconds and crossed the line more than half a second clear of her nearest challenger, Emily Brydon of Canada.
German Maria Riesch was third.
It was a wild ride for twice overall World Cup champion Vonn who arrived at the finish with blood streaming from her mouth after slamming her knee into her jaw early in the run.
"I've always had a lot of confidence on this hill, it definitely suits my strengths and I think every year I just keep the momentum going," she told reporters.
"I have confidence from the year before, I know what I have to do and I just go out there and execute. I knew I had to go out there and attack and I did."
Brydon, who had warned the locals were ready to reclaim their mountain and end Vonn's domination, backed up the bravado with a time of 1:26.65 as she recorded the best ever finish by a Canadian female at Lake Louise.
Riesch completed the podium with a time of 1:26.93 while Britt Janyk added to a stellar day for the Canadians by grabbing fourth.
For Brydon, who has been running World Cup races at Lake Louise for 12 years, it was a long overdue appearance on the podium and provided a major confidence boost ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"This is a huge weight off my shoulders. I've been waiting a long time," she said.
"I'd call this a mini-Olympics for me. I've had a lot of ups and downs here and this is a great way to start the season.
"I had to realize in order to win you can't use your head, you have to ski with your heart. I gave my best today and that's all I can give," added Brydon.
Vonn joins Germany's Katja Seizinger as the most successful skier at Lake Louise, the German having won six times between 1992-97.
It was also Vonn's 13th World Cup downhill win.
With six victories and nine podiums her friends, known as her Vonn-tourage, had suggested the name of the Canadian resort should be changed from Lake Louise to Lake Lindsey.
While there is unlikely to be any name change, the American all-rounder can continue to put her stamp on the piste with another downhill on Saturday followed by a super-G on Sunday.
"It's always hard to win back-to-back races no matter what the discipline is," said Vonn. "There are so many variables but tomorrow I will go out there and try and do the same thing."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)