Austria's Andrea Fischbacher, starting two places behind her in the 53-woman field, captured the gold medal with a time of 1 minute, 20.14 seconds, much to the delight of her ski-mad, cowbell-clanging countrymen. Slovenia's Tina Maze took the silver.
But Vonn, who won the downhill and wiped out in the slalom portion of the super- combined, thought she could have had a second gold yesterday. She had won the previous three Super Gs on the World Cup circuit.
Starting 17th, Vonn sped through the more difficult upper portions of an icy course that was so challenging 15 skiers failed to complete it. Then, in its easier stretches, she appeared to relax.
"Once I got through those difficult sections," she said, "I kind of backed off the gas pedal. I felt like I just didn't ski as aggressively as I could have. I think that's where I lost the race."
It was just the opposite on Thursday, when Vonn thought she had been forced to go too fast in the super-combined's slalom, trying to best eventual winner Maria Riesch of Germany. Riesch, eighth yesterday, agreed with Vonn's assessment.
"I think she was skiing a bit conservative," the German said. "But I've seen her skiing this way often this season, and she's still won."
And so the glamour girl of the American team, the blond skier some had hoped might win three, four, perhaps even five gold medals here, is 1 for 3, with her two weakest events to come - Wednesday's giant slalom and Friday's slalom.
How much the right-shin injury she suffered a week before these Games affected her probably will never be known.
"It's definitely sore," said Vonn, who finished 0.74 seconds behind the winner. "I didn't do the free-skiing on the race hill, which all the other athletes did. Maybe I should've done that, maybe I shouldn't have. I don't really know, looking back, what the right decision was. . . . I'm really happy that we have three days before the next race, which is really going to help me."
Julia Mancuso, Vonn's U.S. teammate who has a pair of silvers here, started first and finished ninth, nearly flying off the course on one of its scariest and quickest turns.
"It was a lot faster up near the top," Mancuso said, "much faster than I expected. I was carrying too much speed into that turn, and that cost me."
Vonn was still near the finish line when Fischbacher, who has had only modest success on the World Cup circuit but finished a close fourth in the downhill here, began her winning run.
When the Austrian got to the bottom and saw her time flash on the scoreboard, she looked as if she couldn't believe it.
"It was really crazy," the winner said. "It was a really straight course, and you had to push from start to finish. . . . I was thinking you have to go really fast and fight and fight. It's a dream come true."
Maze, too, said she was stunned to find herself finishing ahead of Vonn, who has dominated their sport the last several years.
"It seems like she's always first in World Cup and she's always leading," Maze said. "It's kind of annoying to be at the start knowing she'll probably be first. But anything can happen, and this shows she's human, too."