Lindsey Vonn is back on the slopes defending her World Cup title. After solid finishes in her first two events this yearincluding a slalom win in Levi, Finlandshe bruised the back of her knee while training. We caught up with her as she waits to race again.
So, to the point, how's the injury?
Right now I'm on crutches. I amstill optimistic that I'll be able to race in Aspen [the next World Cup event]. I have adoctor's appointment early this week to see when I can get back on the snow. I definitely dodged a big bullet but if I can't ski in Aspen that will be a huge disappointment.
How did it happen?
I was training in Copper, hit a bump, and my ski came off. I fell when the one ski got caught in the snow and twisted my knee really bad it was not a good feeling. Initially I was really nervous and it started swelling almost immediately. I was somewhat optimistic because I didn't hear a pop and didn't think it was an ACL. But I was thinking, Please God, I worked so hard and I am skiing so well.
Is this maybe a good omen? If this had happened to someone who hadn't trained as hard maybe it would have been an ACL.
Exactly. This year for sure I am in the best shape I've ever been in and my results have been better than ever. It's a testament to how hard I've been working. The outcome of the crash is definitely more positive than it could have been so in that sense I am really happy about it.
Tell me about your win in Levi, Finland.
Before the event I didn't train with anyone so I didn't know how fast I was. After the first round I was in first and I thought: Oh my gosh. My husband said, "I told you you were fast and now you know." Everyone else was like, "Let's see if this downhill skier can win the slalom." I haven't had a good slalom result in about two or three years so it was pretty amazing.
How has the training been going?
Up until the crash it's been incredible. I feel like I'm faster in the downhill and super-G. GS is going really well ... and slalom, obviously. Last season I had a knee operation so I wasn't able to physically trainin the summer. This year I was able to get after it from thebeginning and made some big steps in my strength andconditioning. I was able to push myself harder because I didn'thave any limitations. And now I'm ready to get back out there.
Maybe this is your test to keep you hungry as hell.
Where were you for the off-season?
I was in Park City and then three weeks in Austria with my Red Bull trainers. I then went to New Zealand to ski in August and to Portillo, Chile, in September for training camps.
How do you train in the summer?
I get to the gym at about 9 a.m. and bike for an hour and a half. Then I do core work. After, I lift weights and then bike again for an hour. After lunch, I do treadmill and bike intervals, balance and coordination exercises, and speed and agility drills. I finish with the bike or in the pool. It's about seven hours a day, six days a week. It's pretty brutal, but I like it because I know I'm building a base for the winter. There are more than 40 events and I'll be racing every week.
What are your goals this year?
This year will be important because of the World Championships. [The World Championships, unlike the yearly World Cup tour, happen every other year. This year they are in France.] Since it's the year before the Olympics, it will be good preparation with regard to the press. I'll have to work on managing my time and not get nervous and stay focused the way I'll have to for the Olympics.
Also, I am trying to defend my overall title this year. It will definitely be a challenge and you have to stay in the moment all season long. I can't get caught up in all the points and who's winning and losing.
Do you watch the scoreboard, so to speak, during the course of the year?
After every race you get the points analysis so it's hard not to look at it and get caught up. But you have to resist or you'll start thinking: I could get so many points at this race and then so many points in this race. My husband also keeps me focused. He was a big reason for my success last year.
Do you have any training, technique, and mental advice for skiers?
Physically, having a solid core is huge. Having strong ab and back muscles allows you to ski the angles you want and be in the position you want. Hamstring strength will help prevent knee injuries.
As far as technique is concerned, the most important thing is to be in a good body position: hips forward, arms up, and a generally good athletic stance.
Mentally, I have a big advantage with my husband around because I keep the right mindset. I try to always be a glass-half-full person anyway. The most important thing for me is to think about skiing and not the finish line ... like I did when I was younger. It is me and the course: hands up, be dynamic, stay aggressive.
Who was a hero for you growing up?
Picabo Street was a role model. I met her at an autograph signing when I was nine and I just wanted to be her. She inspired me to work hard to be who I am today. Now she lives about 10 minutes away.