Vail’s Vonn honored, Sakic inducted into Colorado Hall of Fame |

Vail’s Vonn honored, Sakic inducted into Colorado Hall of Fame

Associated PressVail, CO Colorado

DENVER – Retired hockey great Joe Sakic found himself back in the limelight Tuesday night while the whirlwind continued for alpine ski champion Lindsey Vonn since the Vancouver Olympic games.The two were on hand for the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame’s annual banquet at the Denver Marriott City Center, where Sakic was among the inductees and Vonn was honored as the state’s athlete of the year.”We’ve been here 15 years now and we learned right away what a great sports town this is,” said Sakic, who as one of the most productive players in NHL history twice led the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup. “This is home for us so we, as a family, are extremely proud of this.”Also part of the 2010 induction class were Mike Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl winning coach with the Denver Broncos before becoming the Washington Redskins coach earlier this year; former Northern Colorado football coach Bob Blasi; broadcaster Larry Zimmer; former Cherry Creek High School baseball coach Marc Johnson; and Dean Lahr, a champion wrestler at the University of Colorado.Vonn, a double-medalist at Vancouver in February, including gold in the downhill, was recognized for her pre-Olympic accomplishments, which included her second consecutive overall World Cup title and nine World Cup wins in 2009.”I’m really honored to be recognized in my home state and among peers, great coaches and great athletes,” said Vonn, who lives in Vail. “I’m so happy I was able to be here tonight because my ‘Colorado’ family has been incredibly supportive, not just for the Olympics but throughout my career and that means a great deal to me.”Sakic, 40, announced his retirement in July after a 20-year NHL career with the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche. He said between coaching his sons’ youth hockey teams and playing golf, he still has been paying close attention to his former team, which as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference is in the midst of a first-round playoff series against the top-seeded San Jose Sharks.”They remind me a lot of us in the early 1990s,” Sakic said, recalling the team’s ascension into the playoffs before a 1996 breakthrough for the Stanley Cup. “They have great young talent. They’re an exciting team, fun to watch.”As much as he enjoys watching them, Sakic, a Canadian who won a gold medal in 1992, said there’s really only been one time when he had any second thoughts about his retirement – and that was when he was in Vancouver watching the U.S. national team play Canada.”I kind of wished I was on the ice,” he said. “But after that, no. I’m enjoying life. I love what the team (the Avalanche) is doing, but I’m watching them as a fan now. You don’t get beat up like that.”For her part, Vonn flew back to Denver earlier Tuesday after spending the weekend in Las Vegas, where she participated in the Academy of Country Music Awards, presenting the award for the single record of the year to Lady Antebellum.The gig was part of what has seemingly been a nonstop series of events since the Olympics.Vonn also played a teaching assistant on her favorite TV show, “Law & Order,” for an episode to air May 24. Later this week she will fly to Salt Lake City to meet with U.S. skiing coaches, followed by a return to Colorado for the shooting of a commercial for a sports apparel company. Vonn also plans to visit a local hospital to encourage young patients.”I’m enjoying every second of it. There’s been a lot of travel but these opportunities maybe come around once in a lifetime,” she said.Vonn did manage to grab some rare down time at home in Vail earlier this month.”I actually skied with my friends, which I haven’t done pretty much ever,” she said. “I really had never woken up and gone out and had the whole day to just have fun on the slopes since I was like seven or eight years old. I love my sport, whether I got to do that or not. But it solidified in my mind how much I love what I do and how lucky I am to be able to do what I love.”

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