Having made history, Vonn looks to future
After celebrating a record breaking 63rd World Cup win on Monday by wining the super-G at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Lindsey Vonn says she’s focused on what she can accomplish in the future — including at the upcoming FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Beaver Creek and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Vonn told media on Tuesday that she was both elated and humbled to have broken the 62-win record that was held by Annemarie Moser-Proell for 35 years. Moser-Proell’s records were made in the 1970s. The men’s World Cup record of 86 wins continues to be held by Ingemar Stenmark.
“I have so much respect for skiing and the history of the sport,” Vonn said. “With Annemarie Moser-Proell having this record, it’s (mind)-blowing for me that I now have more wins than she does. She’s always been this pinnacle and legend that has been untouchable.”
Moser-Proell called Vonn on Monday to congratulate her for the record.
“(Moser-Proell is) a class act, and I’m very proud that my name is spoken in the same sentence as her,” she said.
Vonn took her record win in front of her father and mother, who attended her first-ever European World Cup race, and boyfriend Tiger Woods, who made a surprise appearance. Speculation swirled when Woods was photographed with a missing front tooth, which the golfer said got knocked out by a camera.
“To have Tiger show up for a few hours to watch me win was such a surprise and meant so much to me,” Vonn said. “Although he had some bad luck with a photographer knocking his tooth out, I was incredibly thankful he was there.”
A special comeback
Vonn’s new record comes after two years of recovering from knee injuries, which will be documented on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the premier of an NBC special “The Climb.”
She said that even through the injuries, she never doubted she’d return to competition. The record means more now than had she not struggled over the last few years, she said.
“The last few years have been filled with lots of ups and downs — a lot of downs — but I never gave up and kept working hard, even after the second crash and not being able to go to the (Sochi) Olympics,” she said. “Breaking this record has much more meaning to me now than it would have two years ago because I’ve been through so much more and I’ve proven a lot to myself and other people.”
Vonn also made it clear that she doesn’t plan to dwell on past victories, but she has big plans for the future.
“I’m a fighter, and I have a lot more left to do in the sport. The last two years have made me a lot more motivated and given me a lot more energy than I had before,” Vonn said.
She admitted that had she not been injured, she probably would have retired after the Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships this February. Instead, the next Olympics are her ultimate goal.
“I think everything happens for a reason, and now my career is going on another three years and who knows what it will bring?” she said.
On to Beaver Creek
Vonn admitted that breaking the women’s World Cup win record was a relief and that she will feel less pressured going into the World Championships in a couple weeks.
“It’s nice having this pressure off of me before going into the Worlds,” she said. “I have back-to-back wins, and I’ll be a lot more relaxed now going in and hopefully that equals a better performance.”
When asked if she was planning to chase Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark’s men’s record of 86 wins, Vonn said it wasn’t on her mind.
“It’s been nice to have that record talk go away after yesterday’s win. I’m just focused on tomorrow and the next day, and I’m focused on the coming years. It’s not something I’m thinking about right now. For me, it’s more of a personal goal to get back to the Olympics and get another medal.”
This weekend, the World Cup tour heads to St. Moritz for a downhill and super-G, then on to Vonn’s home base of Vail/Beaver Creek for the Feb. 2-15 World Championships. She is presently leading the FIS World Cup downhill standings.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.