Vonn training on Vail Mountain
VAIL, Colorado – In this young World Cup season, Lindsey Vonn has already raced and trained around the world.
But there’s no place like home.
Vonn, the Olympic downhill gold medalist and three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, was back in Vail on Monday with Golden Peak’s slalom course all to herself.
“I’m home,” she said. “I get to be at my condo, and I’m sleeping in my own bed, and I have my sweet laundry machine and my kitchen.”
Vonn and her husband, Thomas, enjoyed dinner over the weekend at Larkspur restaurant and had a relaxing Halloween at home in the Arrabelle at Vail Square.
“I had some trick-or-treaters come by,” she said. “But it was pretty awesome because they actually gave me candy. I don’t know how that works, but they were little kids and they were like, ‘Here’s some candy for you.’ I was like, ‘That’s a great treat.'”
The Golden Peak race course is ready in late October thanks to a multi-million-dollar snowmaking upgrade that was spearheaded by Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. The slope was injected with water Sunday night to give it the icy, hard surface that racers prefer.
Vonn showed up early Monday, crashing gates under the watchful eye of her husband, a former U.S. Ski Team racer. She scribbled notes in a pink notebook after each run, noting the differences in the equipment she was testing.
“For the first day of training, it was awesome,” Vonn said. “It was exactly what I needed. It wasn’t too icy. It was just a perfect feel-good day.”
Vonn will be joined Tuesday by much of the men’s alpine team. Men’s Head Coach Sasha Rearick was on the course Monday, checking it out in advance of the men’s arrival.
“It’s great to be home and train,” Rearick said. “We’ve been over in New Zealand for almost a month in August and then couple of weeks in September and October. You’re away from home, and it’s always tough. But coming here to Vail is fantastic for the guys. It feels like home. It’s easy. We walk across the parking lot from Manor Vail, and we’re here at training. There are no lift lines to deal with. It’s truly fantastic in that sense.”
As a youth racer, Vonn, a Minnesota native, had trained with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. Last year, she signed a four-year sponsorship deal with Vail Resorts that has her living in the Arrabelle in Lionshead. Vonn came into last year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver with immense expectations, and came through with a gold in the downhill and a bronze in the super-G.
The 26-year-old Vonn is coming off a disappointing World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria, last month, where she finished 18th in the slalom.
Even in a non-Olympic year, Vonn said she is feeling pressure to succeed.
“I think I feel a little bit more pressure than I have in the past, just because, at least for me, the U.S. fans expect a lot from me,” she said.
She will be training slalom here for a little more than a week, and then she will head to Levi, Finland, for a World Cup slalom race Nov. 13. She’ll then return to Vail and train giant slalom and some super-G.
She said she’s ready to perform at the highest level.
“I feel like I’m skiing a lot better (compared to last year) this year at this time,” Vonn said. “I would be psyched to race tomorrow.”
One of the best parts about living at the Arrabelle, she has found, is the Starbucks on the ground floor, but she was a bit disappointed to see it closed for the offseason when she arrived last week. Rimini, the gelato store, is open, but gelato is forbidden in her training diet. So is pizza, or any kind of carbohydrates, for that matter.
“Maybe if I do well in Finland, I can come back and have some gelato,” she said. “That will be my reward. I think I’d rather have Pazzo’s pizza though.”
Managing Editor Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.