Lindsey Vonn Samo Vidic/Red Bull Photofiles

Olympic downhill skiing gold medalist and three-time FIS Alpine World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn has been named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for 2010.

The announcement on Saturday came on the heels of Vonn's stunning downhill win in Val d'Isere, France, earlier in the day to regain the World Cup downhill lead.

Vonn is the first skier to be nominated for - and therefore awarded - the prestigious honor. She received more than double the votes of any other nominee.

Honoring the U.S.A.’s Greatest Athletes

Created in 1931, the AP honor, voted on annually by a panel of AP sports editors from the U.S., is the original Athlete of the Year award in America and is well known for recognizing both female and male athletes since its inception. Past winners include Joe DiMaggio (1941), Billy Jean King (1967, 1973), Michael Jordan (1991-93), Lance Armstrong (2002-05) and Serena Williams (2002, 2009).

Highlights from Lindsey Vonn’s 2010 Season:

  • Olympic gold in downhill (first for an American woman skier)
  • Olympic bronze in Super G
  • 11 World Cup wins (an American record, breaking her own previous record of 9)
  • Captured her third consecutive World Cup Downhill and Overall titles
  • Earned World Cup Super G and Super Combined titles
  • Her to-date total of 35 World Cup wins is the most of any American skier

"Just being nominated means a lot to me but it's truly an honor to receive the award, especially knowing all the incredible athletes who have come before me to make sports so amazing for fans," said Vonn. "Honestly, when I found out, I was pretty speechless."

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