VAIL — Lindsey Vonn says not only is she fully recovered, but she’s skiing some of the best super-G of her life.
From a press conference at Golden Peak on Friday, Vonn said since recovering from a knee injury she sustained last season, she’s had a chance to train more in super-G than any of the other ski racing disciplines. She said as far as super-G is concerned, not only is she back, but she’s feeling better than ever.
“My super-G is some of the best super-G I’ve ever skied,” she said. “But downhill still needs more time.”
At the 2010 Olympics, Vonn placed third in super-G and won the downhill. She says getting ready for downhill this season shouldn’t be an issue.
“I did quite a few days of super-G down in Chile, a couple days of super-G in Europe and did already four days of super-G here in Colorado, now it’s just getting more and more comfortable with downhill, which should be no problem,” she said.
Vonn said her knee, which she injured in February and had surgery on here in Vail, is now fully recovered.
“I don’t feel it. I don’t do anything differently because of my knee. I’m training as if I were 100 percent healthy, which I am,” she said.
Vonn officially returned to snow in Chile and traveled with the team to the first World Cup event of the season in Soelden, Austria, where she was planning to race but then changed her mind.
“After Chile I got the idea in my head that maybe I could start in Soelden,” she said. “But when I got over to Europe, I realized I just needed more time to train and I wasn’t quite race ready, so I think it was a smart decision not to race.”
More than a month in Vail
Forgoing that race, a giant slalom, means that for Vonn, the World Cup season will start in Beaver Creek, where the women are scheduled to race in downhill, super-G and giant slalom events Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Until then, she’ll be training at Copper Mountain and Golden Peak exclusively, which means this year, Vonn gets to spend a lot more time at her home in Vail than she would in a normal season. As the Beaver Creek World Cup is a test event for the 2015 World Championships, it’s a departure from the normal World Cup calendar.
“It’s really nice to be able to spend time at home,” Vonn said. “I’m going to be here for over a month. It’s nice to sleep in my own bed, and I feel comfortable here, so I feel like this is a good place for me to really home in on my race preparation ... so in pretty much every way, this is the best possible place for me to be to be prepared for the first race of the season.”
Vonn says despite how strong she’s feeling in super-G, she has no expectations going into Beaver Creek.
“I’m not expecting a lot with my first race back, but I feel like I don’t have any pressure,” she said, “... I’m not expecting to be on the podium. I’m not expecting a win. I’m just going to go out there and see what I can do.”
Vonn, 29, talked about her legacy as a ski racer, saying a win at the 2015 World Championships would mean more to her than a win at the Olympics. She also said that breaking Annemarie Moser-Proell’s women’s victory record of 62 would be the most significant accomplishment of her career.
“When you look back at the record books, there’s many Olympic champions,” she said. “But to be the No. 1 winningest World Cup racer of all time, you’re just alone on that list.”
The ski superstar has made headlines outside of the sports section by dating golf sensation Tiger Woods, and on Friday drew a comparison between her goal of chasing the most World Cup wins to Woods’ goal of winning the most professional majors.
“We’re both chasing something,” Vonn said. “It would be great if we both broke the record. That would be pretty significant.”
But beyond her ski racing achievements on snow, Vonn said her true legacy will be defined by some of the other things she’s done to benefit the sport.
“Being a role model and inspiring kids is the most valuable thing in my career,” she said. “It’s something that I can have a major effect on and hopefully inspire the next generation of ski racers.”
Vonn has partnered up with Vail Resorts to form “Ski Girls Rock,” a female-only ski school designed to empower young girls.
“I’m hoping to branch out (Ski Girls Rock) to more of the Vail Resorts mountains,” she said.
She’s also joined Vail Resorts in promoting EpicMix Racing, a program designed to introduce more people to the sport of ski racing by allowing them to compare their times at various Vail Resorts courses to Vonn’s time on a similar course, which she set on Friday.
“EpicMix Racing is really something special,” she said. “I grew up doing Nastar, but Nastar is so outdated. What Vail did is made it more technologically friendly and made it so they can literally compete against me. ... I think it’s something really cool and I hope that it gets kids motivated not just to ski but maybe to get involved in racing as well. ... I’m really proud to be a part of it.”