No one has skied a finer line between glory and disaster than American superstar Lindsey Vonn here at the Olympics she was supposed to dominate and now the count could not be more evenly balanced: two medals and two wipe-outs.
Her second mishap came in the first run of the women's giant slalom when fog and a deteriorating course turned one of the great Alpine tests into a lottery, not least for Vonn's former close friend and now fierce rival Julia Mancuso.
Mancuso, who had two silver medals against Vonn's gold and bronze, remained full of ambition when she followed the downhill champion out of the starting hut.
But when Vonn crashed out, while four-tenths of a second in front of the leader Elisabeth Goergl of Austria as she hit the lower section of the course, Mancuso was yellow-flagged early in her run.
Furious and agitated, she hitched a ride on a courseworker's snow buggy, clearly believing her momentum was lost. That seemed a fair assumption when she was obliged to go 12 places after her original slot and failed to better Goergl's time. The Austrian still had the lead as officials accepted defeat and shifted the second run until today.
Vonn will now have to decide whether she is fit for tomorrow's final event, the slalom, after injuring her little finger in a crash that sent her flying into a safety fence.
She said: "The course is breaking up at the bottom. I got a little bit too inside and lost my outside ski. I was like a pretzel, all tangled up. She [Mancuso] is mad, she's frustrated and probably mad at me. I hope she understands I definitely didn't want it to happen."
Sometimes, it seems, nothing is easy – and least of all being a superstar.
* The United States became the first team to reach the Olympic men's ice hockey semi-finals yesterday with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Switzerland. Zach Parise scored both goals for the unbeaten Americans.Reuse content