ARE, Sweden --- Perfect start, perfect ending for Lindsey Vonn.
She captured the overall title for the second consecutive year by winning the last downhill of the season Wednesday at the World Cup Finals. She is the first American woman to win two World Cup overall crowns.
Vonn won the season-opening downhill in early December at Lake Louise, Alberta, and finished in the points in the remaining five races.
Vonn completed the Olympia course in 1 minute, 42.49 seconds after posting the fastest splits all the way down. The course, designed by former Swiss downhill great Bernhard Russi, is one of Vonn's favorites. Two years ago, she won two silver medals in the downhill and super-G at the world championships.
Vonn matched hero and friend Picabo Street's consecutive titles in 1995 and '96. She needed at least an eighth-place finish to clinch the overall title.
"It's a really special moment in my life," she said. "I give my whole life for the sport and to be able to win something like this for a second time in a row, it means a lot to me. It's why I work hard, it's what I live for and it's special to have been able to put my own mark in the history books."
Maria Riesch, of Germany, was second, 0.40 behind, and also finished second overall. Austria's Renate Goetschl was third, 1.26 back.
With three races left, Vonn leads the overall standings with 1,688 points. Riesch is second with 1,299 and Anja Paerson, of Sweden, is third with 990.
A double gold medalist at February's worlds, Vonn also has a chance to win the super-G title, trailing Fabienne Suter, of Switzerland, by 15 points. The last super-G is today.
Vonn has been racing with a special splint after surgery. She severed a tendon in her right thumb on a broken champagne bottle while celebrating her second world title at Val d'Isere, France, in February.
"It still hurts and it makes my starts a lot more weak, which has definitely cost me time," she said. "But, during my run I feel like it is almost normal. It's a little awkward with the tape and I can't quite put my pole exactly where I want it, but I think that I've gotten used to it."