The American has never held back, whether v her aggression ~ above the piste or her criticism the the us president. Now she is set for what is likely to be her last Olympics


Lindsey Vonn: ‘No issue what is thrown in ~ me, the weather or media or anything, i feel favor I deserve to handle it.’ Photograph: bother How/Getty Images
Lindsey Vonn: ‘No matter what is thrown in ~ me, the weather or media or anything, i feel choose I can handle it.’ Photograph: take care of How/Getty Images

On Saturday, lindsey Vonn will return to the Olympic stage for the very first time since she won downhill yellow in Vancouver eight years earlier and sculpted out a ar in US sporting activities history, becoming the very first American woman to success alpine skiing’s marquee occasion at the Games. The intervening years have looked an ext like a moguls course 보다 a smooth ski slope for the 33-year-old, who has faced plenty of bump on her way back come the Olympics. However she stays a risk-taker, continuously willing come put everything on the line for what she loves and what she trust in, one audacity that just could lead her earlier to the optimal of the Olympic podium.

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A series of right knee injuries and two subsequent surgeries sidelined Vonn ahead of the Sochi Games and also prevented she from defending her downhill title four years ago. While ailments and also age have forced Vonn to readjust her cultivate – she limits her time top top the mountain and also places greater focus on warming up to defend her human body from additional wear and also tear – the looming danger of injury hasn’t resulted in her come adopt more cautious gyeongju tactics.

“I think it is what has permitted me to have actually so much success in my career, the fact that ns willing come risk whatever every time ns in the beginning gate, yet it’s additionally been the factor I’ve crashed so numerous times” she said the Guardian critical month. “We’re going so fast and also we’re advertise the borders all the time. Things deserve to go wrong and you get injured, but I feel choose that’s just component of the job description. When I’m in the starting gate I want to win, and I’m walking to placed it top top the line. If i crash, so it is in it, however at the very least I’ve offered 110%.”


Some have questioned Vonn’s patriotism after ~ she was an important of Donald Trump. Photograph: Philipp Guelland/EPA“I just skied really inside,” she explained. “I was really lateral and also I’m nice tall because that a ski racer and also everyone thought that was a weakness. However my coach called me it wasn’t, the it was actually a strength, so i didn’t readjust it. Eventually, in downhill, that ended up being one of my the strongest attributes, exactly how I have the right to lean right into a turn and get a different angulation than most athletes.”

Vonn used that technique to schuss her way to the height of she sport. She’s one of the most decorated ski racers ever, having actually accrued much more World Cup to win (81) than any type of other woman in alpine skiing history. And also she’s just 5 wins away from tie the all at once record that 86, set by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. Still, world Cup title carry little weight with the median American sports fan, who commonly pays fist to alpine skiing when every 4 years. In the US, one Olympic athlete’s success is generally tied to his or she medal count. And prolific stars such together Michael Phelps, who won 23 golds in his career, have skewed the late of what it means to be successful at the Olympics.

“We certainly have to be spoiled by Michael,” Vonn said. “But in ski gyeongju there room a lot much more variables. There’s wind, there’s changing snow conditions, yes sir what shirt number friend have. There space so plenty of things that could potentially inhibit friend from getting an Olympic medal that may have actually nothing to execute with how great of a skier you space or how well you perform.”

Vonn has likewise felt the weight of the American public’s expectations off the slopes, many recently because that comments she made around US chairman Donald trump card in an interview v CNN earlier in December. For most Olympic athletes, who popularity is regularly rooted in patriotism, wading into political waters deserve to be a dreadful prospect, one that has actually the potential to scare off the sponsorship avenues that crop up as soon as a quadrennium and vanish quickly after the cauldron is extinguished. For Vonn, whose star strength is predicated on she near-universal appeal, the threat is even greater. Yet the didn’t discourage her from broaching the topic.

“I expect to represent the people of the unified States, not the president. … I desire to stand for our country well, and I nothing think there space a lot of people at this time in our federal government that do that,” she stated in the interview. She also revealed that she walk not arrangement on joining the remainder of Team USA for the timeless post-Olympics pilgrimage to the White House. Vonn faced backlash ~ those comments however remained steadfast in her beliefs, which she claimed don’t do her any kind of less American.


Vonn has actually 81 world Cup titles to she name. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/EPA“Everyone has various opinions, that’s what renders America great,” she said. “I think if you love your country that renders you patriotic.”

Vonn will represent the United states at the gamings for a fourth and likely final time in Pyeongchang. Her regimen starts v the super-G on Saturday morning in the South korean mountains (Friday night in the US) prior to next week’s downhill and also alpine combined. Recent civilization Cup victories, including two downhill wins previously this month, prove she hasn’t lost her edge.

“It’s been eight years and I’ve operated my butt off to be able to come into these Olympics in great shape and in a good position to obtain as numerous medals as possible,” she said.

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Vonn is all too familiar with how swiftly medal hopes have the right to be quashed, which is why she has taken extra precautions to remain healthy and balanced in Pyeongchang, regularly donning gloves indoors and also a operation mask come stave turn off illness. And also then there space the variables she can’t control, consisting of the tempestuous winds that have actually disrupted the alpine skiing regime in south Korea. But she is much better equipped to cope with the unknowns than many of her younger competitors.

“With period comes a lot of experience,” she said. “For a most athletes, this is their an initial time under the push of the Olympics and having a most expectations placed on your shoulders, and also I’ve faced that before. I’ve currently won the Olympics, therefore I’m not under press to perform something I’ve never ever done before. No issue what is thrown in ~ me, the weather or media or anything, i feel prefer I have the right to handle it.”

Still, Vonn knows her age will prevent her from continuing in her sport lot longer. Retirement is unavoidable – likely within the next season or two, i m sorry she hopes is sufficient time to rest Stenmark’s document – however she to plan to contend as long as she physically capable. “I love what I perform so lot I nothing really want to protect against doing it,” she said. “I feel like my human body is going come tell me that I should retire much more so than my mind.”