Lindsey Vonn says Austrian coaches have apologized to her for suggesting she had an edge over other skiers because of her weight.
Austrian media last week reported that Vonn, the reigning downhill and overall World Cup champion, would have an advantage in speed events because she was carrying additional weight.
Vonn said the comments didn’t weigh on her but served as motivation when she won a trio of World Cup races, dominating three days of speed racing in Haus im Ennstal, Austria, last weekend.
Vonn said in a teleconference Monday that she takes pride in being fit and fast and “if weight were the key to success in ski racing, then everyone would be stuffing their faces with food.”
“I just think it’s pretty ridiculous and it definitely irritated me and it definitely gave me a little bit of extra motivation on race day,” Vonn said. “But, you know, I think in all fairness, I think it was an exaggeration on the journalists’ part on the comments of the Austrian coaches. I mean, the Austrian coaches actually apologized to me.
“And as a woman, I kind of want to drop the subject if I can. But to me, I pride myself on my work ethic, how hard I work in the gym and I give everything to my sport, I work incredibly hard and for someone to say that I’m overweight is just completely ridiculous in my mind,” Vonn added.
It’s ludicrous to think packing on the pounds would aid an elite athlete on the ski slopes, Vonn said.
“They’re definitely backtracking now, the people that said that, but in ski racing, it’s not about how much you weigh. You have to be powerful and agile,” Vonn said.
Despite skiing with a bruised left lower arm, which she hurt in a crash in last month’s giant slalom race in Lienz, Austria, Vonn won two downhills and a Super-G last weekend. That raised her total to 28 victories, putting her at No. 2 on the all-time list of American skiers, three titles behind Bode Miller.
Vonn became the first American skier to win World Cup races on three straight days and the first woman to accomplish the feat since Germany’s Katja Seizinger in 1997 at Lake Louise, Alberta.
“I know there’s always going to be some negative comments in the press, but this one struck a chord and it definitely gave me some extra motivation and drive for last weekend,” Vonn said.
Vonn’s injured arm didn’t bother her in the downhills and super-G, but Tuesday night’s slalom in nearby Flachau will be a different story: hitting gates still hurts. So, she got a new brace to better protect her arm.
Vonn also said Monday that she’s not considering skipping the giant slalom in Vancouver because of her injury.
“I’m hoping that my hand will feel better by the time Whistler comes around,” she said. “I feel that things are getting better. It’s definitely not as painful in downhill and super-G as in the slalom. The slalom for me is the toughest event right now, but I’m just going to keep doing therapy and hope it gets better.
“But I would still like to do all five disciplines at the Olympics.”