Vonn spreads message of perseverance
VAIL — On Friday, Lindsey Vonn participated in what had to be the most entertaining news conference of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Put on the spot with questions such as “Who is your favorite teammate?” and “Who has been the best coach you’ve ever had?” Vonn did her best to provide answers to a group of 50 or so children who were lucky enough to meet the superstar. For the record, Vonn’s best friend on the team is Alice McKennis and her favorite coach she ever had was Reid Phillips from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
In addition to stumpers such as those, there were some classics, as well.
“What’s your favorite color?” 5-year-old Blakesley Sutter asked Vonn, the highest paid female skier the United States has ever produced.
“Green,” Vonn responded. “That’s such a great question.”
Vonn turned the questions around on the kids, as well, revealing the superfans in attendance. When she asked her audience if anyone knew her dog’s name, Mia Satkiewicz, of Steamboat Springs, was the only one who could provide the correct answer (Leo, but she just adopted another dog, Bear). When Vonn asked the crowd if anyone wanted to be a ski racer when they grew up, Satkiewicz’s hand shot up into the air.
When it came time to ask Vonn questions, Satkiewicz was the first to fire away.
“How old were you when you figured out that you wanted to be a ski racer?” she asked Vonn.
Vonn told Satkiewicz she knew for sure she wanted to be a ski racer when she was 8 years old, which just happens to be Satkiewicz’s age currently.
“I met Picabo Street, who was my idol growing up, and she really inspired me to want to be an Olympian,” Vonn said.
“I met Picabo Street last weekend,” Satkiewicz responded.
‘I WANTED TO QUIT’
Without realizing it, many kids touched on a theme Vonn is trying to instill in the youth — to persevere through the tough times.
“Was there ever a time you wanted to quit skiing?” 12-year-old Ashley Rosenberg, of Chicago, asked Vonn. “How did you get re-inspired?”
“When I was 16, I crashed in 50 out of 55 races,” Vonn replied. “I wanted to quit because I wasn’t very good, I kept falling and I couldn’t figure out how to not fall. But I made a decision that I would keep going. I didn’t really make any money but my dad helped me and I hired a trainer, and I just kept working hard and the next season it turned around and I started to do better, and I just continued to work hard. I never really gave up, but I did question it at one point.”
Before the questions began, Vonn plugged her various programs at Vail — EpicMix Racing, where you can compete against her in a ski race, and Ski Girls Rock, where girls can take small-group lessons with female instructors — and her documentary, “The Climb.”
Angela Karr, 10, of Chicago, used her opportunity on the microphone to offer Vonn a compliment.
“Your documentary is great,” Karr told Vonn.
“What I’ve learned from my injuries is, even if you fall, you can always pick yourself back up,” Vonn said. “Sometimes it hurts when you fall, but you just have to get right back up and keep going.”
At the conclusion of the event, Vonn signed posters and cards for the kids. The cards show Vonn surrounded by her 16 World Cup crystal globes and holding her two Olympic medals. Inscribed on them is a quote, “When you fall, get right back up. Just keep going, keep pushing it.”
Vonn’s next opportunity to keep pushing it will come at the end of the month, when she returns to World Cup action with a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Feb. 28.