Vonn: ‘Major mistakes’ in ski races need to stop
Special to the Denver Post
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: Vail’s Lindsey Vonn, a three-time World Cup overall champion and Olympic downhill gold medalist, reports regularly in collaboration with Denver Post ski writer John Meyer.
ALTENMARKT-ZAUCHENSEE, AUSTRIA – I had two podium finishes over the weekend despite major mistakes in both races that could have had disastrous consequences.
I’ve got to stop doing that.
In Saturday’s downhill, I went off-course in one turn but managed to win. In Sunday’s super-G, I went down on a hip but managed to bounce up and finish second.
The thing is, in ski racing, when you’re pushing it to the hilt, trying to win and getting close to the limit, mistakes happen sometimes. There’s hardly ever a perfect run. It’s a matter of skiing aggressively, trying to find the limit, and if you do make mistakes, trying to make them as fast as possible – minimize the damage.
In the downhill, I thought I had a really good run going, and I came into the bottom part of the course with a really good line, but I had a lot more speed going than in the training runs – probably 60-65 mph. The snow was a lot softer, because the temperatures warmed up over the weekend. I think I just hit some soft snow and it forced me into a lower line. Suddenly, my skis were pointed at the fence, and I was way off line.
I didn’t freak out. I just kept going, thinking that if I could ski the bottom really well, I’d be able to make up the time I lost. Two gates below where I made the mistake was a crucial part of the course. I thought if I skied that well, and carried my speed into the finish, maybe I could manage a top-five finish.
I was really surprised and happy to win the race. It was a tough course with tough snow conditions – with that mistake.
In the super-G, I had trouble in the same area where I made the mistake the day before. The snow was a little softer at the bottom of the course. I came into that section again with what I thought was a good line and good direction, but I booted out (scraped the side of the boot on the snow while turning) at 55-60 mph. I went down on my hip but managed to pop back up again. I lost my line but managed to stand back up and squeak by the next gate.
I was really happy to finish second. Lara Gut of Switzerland had an exceptional run and she definitely deserved the win.
I also had a pretty crazy recovery at Lake Louise, Alberta, back in December. It was icy and I hit a bump, just lost grip momentarily. Last weekend, my problems mostly had to do with these warm temperatures and soft snow, kind of fluky things happening.
Whatever the reason, I need to stop doing that. I need to try to make clean runs for many reasons, most of all my health, but also to get results.