04/29 02:13 CDT Vonn sets sights on Olympics, records, racing against men
Vonn sets sights on Olympics, records, racing against men
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) --- Always the consummate planner, Lindsey Vonn has every detail
scribbled in a calendar from now until her season starts in November. Workouts,
upcoming trips, ski camps, appointments --- all of the ordinary stuff.
The bigger-ticket items? Now those are simply memorized. In the twilight of her
career, the four-time overall World Cup champion has a priority list of
aspirations before even thinking of stepping away:
--- Break Ingemar Stenmark's wins record (once thought untouchable).
--- "Defend" her downhill crown at the Winter Olympics in South Korea (she
didn't get that chance in Sochi because of a knee injury).
--- Compete against the men in a World Cup race (should skiing's governing body
ever give the idea a thumbs up).
"I'm not going to stop until I reach my goals," Vonn said. "There's too much I
have left to accomplish."
At the moment, her plan is to race at least through the 2018-19 season ---
health willing, of course.
But right now, the 32-year-old Vonn feels, knock on wood, quite healthy. She
hasn't been able to say that very often.
A quick glance at her medical chart: Bruised hip in training crash before
Olympics (2006), sliced right thumb on champagne bottle while celebrating a
victory (2009), severely bruised shin (2010), serious knee injuries (2013-14),
broken left ankle (2015) and fractures near her left knee joint in a crash
Most recently, she broke her right arm in a November training run. It required
surgery and led to nerve damage so severe she could hardly wiggle her fingers
at first and had to tape the ski pole to her glove in order to race. She's
still trying to recover full sensation.
"All the obstacles I've faced, it makes me appreciate things that much more,"
Vonn said in a recent interview as she hosted a camp in Denver designed to
empower girls to reach their goals. "But I can't worry about injuries. If you
worry about it, you're always going to ski scared."
That's never been an issue with Vonn.
"There are a lot of athletes who achieve amazing results and when they get
hurt, especially multiple times, they ask themselves, 'Is it worth it?'" U.S.
Alpine director Patrick Riml said. "Her hunger to become a better athlete and
win more races is as big as it was when she was 20 years old.
"Her determination, her drive to become better, to win more races, it's
Vonn has a number in mind --- 86. That's how many World Cup wins Stenmark
accumulated during the Swedish great's extraordinary career. Vonn is currently
"If I ended my career today, I'd still be really satisfied with what I've
done," said Vonn , who broke Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell's women's
record of 62 World Cup wins in January 2015. "But I think to beat a record like
his (Stenmark), it would be very significant."
These days, everything is geared toward the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
After capturing downhill gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, she missed the Sochi
Games because of a knee injury.
"My main goal is to defend or repeat --- I don't know what you call it," she
Vonn raced on the Olympic course in early March, finishing second in both the
downhill and super-G. In Pyeongchang next February, she said she will compete
in the downhill, super-G, giant slalom and the combined, but skip the slalom.
According to her crammed calendar, this recent block of time was reserved for
rest. She and her boyfriend, Kenan Smith , a former assistant wide receivers
coach for the Los Angeles Rams, recently escaped to the beach in the Turks and
Caicos Islands .
Soon on her to-do list, test out new Head skis and boots in Europe. Vonn's been
hurt so much that she really hasn't had a chance to try out the latest
"I need to get up to date," Vonn said. "I know that if I can fine-tune some of
the details, I can find some more time in my racing."
That will certainly come in handy against a crop of talented skiers that
includes freshly minted World Cup overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin, who grew
up holding Vonn in high esteem, the same way Vonn did with 1998 super-G Olympic
gold medalist Picabo Street.
"There's clearly no one out there in the technical disciplines, especially the
slalom, that's on Mikaela's level," said Vonn, who lives in Vail, Colorado.
"She's had an incredible career so far."
One day Shiffrin could be chasing Vonn's marks. At 22, Shiffrin already has 31
World Cup wins. For a comparison, Vonn had four at the same age.
"It would be great if Mikaela's able to break it," said Vonn, whose foundation
partnered with "ZGirls" to host confidence-building programs.
Another item high on Vonn's priority list --- competing against the men. She's
lobbying hard for such a chance, but so far the International Ski Federation
(FIS) has yet to sign off. Riml said he will push for rules alterations at the
FIS meetings in May to possibly give Vonn and other female skiers that
opportunity down the road.
"All the men say, 'We don't think she's going to beat us,' which is what
they're going to say, and also that, 'It will be great for our sport,'" Vonn
said. "So, what's the harm?
"Hopefully, we're able to accomplish it before I retire."
On the web: www.lindseyvonnfoundation.org