Lindsey Vonn finishes 9th in super-G, named to Team USA

BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria -- Lindsey Vonn will be representing the United States at the Winter Olympics for a fourth time, it was announced Saturday.

She did not compete at Sochi in 2014 because of injuries, which again almost derailed her attempt to travel to Pyeongchang next month.

Vonn, competing Saturday in her first race since winning the super-G in Val d'Isere on Dec. 16 for her 78th career World Cup victory, finished ninth to ensure that she'd be able to compete in Pyeongchang.

Vonn had been sidelined with a back injury, which was diagnosed when she pulled out of a race after her victory at Val d'Isere.

Italy's Federica Brignone won Saturday's women's World Cup super-G, the penultimate race before the Winter Games. She beat former overall World Cup champion Lara Gut of Switzerland by 0.18 seconds. Cornelia Huetter of Austria was 0.46 behind in third.

Vonn finished 1.43 off the lead in ninth place, a day after the American standout was considering skipping the race to avoid the risk of getting injured on the partly weakened course. However, snow conditions vastly improved after a cold night.

"As soon as I saw the course at inspection this morning, I knew I was going to run," said Vonn, adding that she was satisfied with the conditions after "the snow was sugar" in previous days.

"For me that is a dangerous situation because I don't have any stability then on my knee," Vonn said. "If it's bumpy it's not a problem. As long as the surface is holding and solid, it's fine."

Vonn badly injured her right knee skiing in soft snow at the 2013 world championships in Austria, and ultimately missed the Sochi Olympics the following year.

Wearing bib No. 2, Vonn briefly led Saturday's race but knew she was not in contention for her 79th career victory.

"On the bottom I wasn't as aggressive as I should have been. I was a little bit too conservative," she said. "It's kind of funny because I skied the harder sections better and then the easier sections worse."

Vonn didn't match Brignone's skiing, who found the right line to master some tricky turns in the Karnten-Franz Klammer course and timed 1 minute, 9.80 seconds.

Brignone dedicated her victory to Italian teammate Elena Fanchini, who had to end her season because of a tumor, forcing her out of her fourth Olympics in Pyeongchang next month.

"She is always with us, she is missing. For sure, we are all upset. This (win) was for her," said Brignone, adding that she hoped her triumph "can help Elena to recover better."

Nadia Fanchini, Elena's younger sister, trailed Brignone by 0.98 in fifth for her best result of the season.

For Brignone, it was the Italian's seventh career win, and second of the season after triumphing in a giant slalom in Lienz, Austria, last month.

Brignone became the fifth different winner of five super-G races this season.

Still aiming for her first win after coming back from knee surgery, Gut used a strong run to take an early lead in the race.

Brignone trailed by 0.08 at the last split time but made up two-tenths on the Swiss to grab the win.

"To me it's important to show in races what I can do," Gut said. "I was determined to start January well and I have done that."

The race was rescheduled from Sunday after organizers swapped it with the downhill. The mandatory downhill training run will be held Sunday morning, two hours before the race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.