The snow queen returns: Lindsey Vonn is back in action

Lindsey Vonn safely negotiated her first run down the Lake Louise course where she has won 14 times.

Story highlights

  • Lindsey Vonn takes part in first ski competition in 10 months
  • The American is recovering from reconstructive surgery on her right knee
  • Vonn finishes more than three seconds off the pace at the World Cup event in Canada
  • The 29-year-old hopes to defend her Olympic downhill in February's Winter Olympics

Pausing to catch her breath at the bottom of the mountain, Lindsey Vonn was back in business.

It may not have been fast, it may not have been smooth but it was still a landmark moment for the Olympic downhill champion.

The American skiing star had finished her first race since making a complicated recovery from a knee injury.

Vonn needed reconstructive surgery on her right knee after landing heavily on the opening day of the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria in February.

She has waited 10 months to go racing again and in November her return was put on ice when she partially tore one of her reconstructed knee ligaments in training.

There were no complications for Vonn on her first competitive return down Canada's Lake Louise course -- but her time did not trouble the leaders.

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She finished her run in one minute 59.22 seconds -- more than three seconds off the leading time and 40th overall.

The start of the race had been delayed by hazy cloud and extremely cold temperatures which dropped as low as -36 Celsius. Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch eventually came out on top with the quickest time.

Vonn is racing against time to find form and fitness as she attempts to defend her downhill crown at February's Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi.

There she will aim to emulate the feat of fellow American, Picabo Street, who came back the season after reconstructive surgery to win gold at Nagano in 1998.

Vonn, who is dating golfer Tiger Woods, is a four-time overall World Cup champion and has won two world championship golds in a glittering career on the slopes.

Read: Rebuilding a ski superstar