(CNN) -- Lindsey Vonn of the United States lived up to her billing as the golden girl of the Winter Olympics with a dominant victory in the women's downhill at Whistler Creekside on Wednesday.
Vonn had been troubled by a shin injury in the build-up to the Games in Vancouver but showed no ill-effects with a blistering run of one minute 44.19 seconds to win her first Olympic medal of any color.
The Minnesotan, the reigning world champion in the discipline and totally dominant on the World Cup circuit in the build-up to Games, decimated the time set by fellow American Julia Mancuso by over half a second from start number 16.
"I dreamed about what this would feel like but it is much better in real life," said the 25-year-old.
"I can't stop crying. This is everything that I ever wanted and hoped for. I had a lot of ups and downs in my career. Standing here today at the finish, and to win, is amazing."
Vonn is also the first American woman to win downhill gold and the first to win a speed event at the Olympics since Picabo Street triumphed in the super-G at Nagano in 1998.
Elisabeth Goergl of Austria won the bronze medal, fully 1.46 seconds adrift of Vonn, just edging out compatriot Andrea Fishbacher for the final podium position.
Experienced Swede Anja Paerson looked to be mounting a dangerous challenge to Vonn on the early part of the course, but took a heavy fall on one of the numerous jumps and needed medical attention.
Germany's Maria Riesch, a great friend of Vonn's and her closest challenger in the overall World Cup standings this season, could only finish a disappointing eighth.
Vonn, who was injured at the Turin Games four years ago, but bravely still took part, is competing in five events this time around and has strong medal chances in each, particularly in the Super-Combined and super-G disciplines.
Her husband and coach Thomas Vonn had no doubts she would claim gold with her first attempt despite her pre-Games injury scare.
"For Lindsey to come though, under this kind of pressure and with her shin injury, is fantastic," he said.
"Lindsey called me before the race and told me, 'I think I got this. I may not need you," he added.
She will next be in action in Thursday's Super-Combined event.
There was further triumph for the United States in the men's speed skating as Shani Davis retained his 1,000 meters crown at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Davis is the first man in Winter Games history to achieve the feat as he enjoyed a victory margin of 0.19 seconds over South Korea's Mo Tae-Bum. Another American, Chad Hedrick, took bronze.
And the U.S. gold rush continued with a commanding performance from Shaun White in snowboarding's half-pipe final to successfully defend his Olympic title.
White had a massive four-point lead over compatriot Scott Lago after the first run and rounded off an incredible display with a series of trademark moves in his second effort which scored a massive 48.4 points.
Elsewhere, there were golds in the cross country sprint races for Nikita Kruikov of Russia in the men's event and in the women's for Norway's Marit Bjoergen, who also won bronze in the 10km freestyle event on Monday.
In the men's luge doubles event, the Linger brothers from Austria, Wolfgang and Andreas, successfully defended the title they won in Turin ahead of the Latvian pair of Andris and Juris Sics.
China won their first gold of the sixth day in the short track speed skating as Wang Meng took the 500 meters event by a convincing margin as she pulled clear of the field in the final after a series of false starts.