By Steve Keating
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Lindsey Vonn arrived at the alpine ski world championships as the headline act but exited on Thursday having failed to deliver the award winning performance that had been predicted.
With her model looks, famous boyfriend and a resume that includes a record 64 World Cup wins making her the most successful women's skier of all time, Vonn commanded the spotlight at Beaver Creek but failed to shine on home snow.
The 30-year-old American, who calls the Vail Valley home, began the championships with what she described as a disappointing third place in the Super-G and everything went downhill from there.
A fifth place in the downhill was deflating while a disqualification in the combined after straddling a gate left Vonn in tears.
She took her final bow on Thursday with 14th place in the giant slalom but departed with a smile on her face.
"I enjoyed it," said Vonn, assessing her championships. "I think I just maybe wanted to do well too much. No matter how hard I tried, it wasn't working.
"I am still happy with these world championships. I am honored to be racing in front of my home crowd and I am leaving here with a special feeling.
"I didn't get as many medals as everyone expected me to but I am still happy with my performance. At the end of the day, all you can do is your best, and that's certainly what I did."
It has been a tough fortnight for the world's most famous sporting couple.
Vonn's boyfriend golfer Tiger Woods, battling back from back surgery, missed the cut at the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open two weeks ago and then withdrew after 11 holes at Torrey Pines just six days later, sparking wild speculation about his playing future.
But the 14-time major winner twice made the trip to Beaver Creek to support his girlfriend and he was there in the finish area on Thursday to console Vonn, offering a hug and kiss after a sluggish opening leg.
Vonn at least made her last run at the world championships a storming one as she blazed down the track in the fifth-best time to briefly jump atop the leaderboard, producing a roar from the packed grandstands and a big smile from Woods.
"I kept fighting, I didn't give up," offered a delighted Vonn. "I knew I could get into the top 15.
"It may not have been my best performance but I am still taking away a lot of positives and looking forward to Maribor and the rest of the technical places.
"It will be fun. Too much speed, I need a bit of technical training as well."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)