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Pyeongchang 2018: Unsentimental Lindsey Vonn feeling like a ‘million bucks’

Lindsey Vonn said she felt ‘like a million bucks’ ahead of what will likely be her last Olympic downhill on Wednesday

other sports Updated: Feb 19, 2018 12:07 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Pyeongchang
Pyeongchang 2018,Pyeongchang Winter Olympics,Lindsey Vonn
United States' Lindsey Vonn after completing women's downhill training at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea on Monday.(AP)

US speed queen Lindsey Vonn insisted she would not get sentimental about what will likely be her last Olympic downhill on Wednesday, saying instead she felt like “a million bucks” going into the blue riband event.

Vonn, 33, won the 2010 downhill title in Vancouver, but missed Sochi through injury. Her outing in the super-G in Pyeongchang, won by Czech snowboard crossover Ester Ledecka, saw her finish sixth after a big mistake at the bottom of the course cost her at least a podium spot.

“I feel like a million bucks,” the upbeat American said after a second training run on the 2.8km-long Jeongseon course.

Austrian Stephanie Venier topped times with 1min 39.75sec, just ahead of Italian Sofia Goggia and Vonn, who eased up coming through the line to finish third.

Vonn has vowed to keep skiing next season in a bid to better Ingemar Stenmark’s World Cup record of 86 victories, but has said it’s highly unlikely she’ll make the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” she said. “I’m trying to enjoy literally every second here and enjoy the time with my team.

“I’ve tried not to think of it as my last Olympic downhill, just focus on the moment, the right here and the right now. I think later I’ll reflect on how much my teammates and my coaches made it special for me.

“You can’t get too sentimental right now because I still have to race and I still have to be focused. Afterwards I’ll do some reflecting.”

All-or-nothing Goggia is a close friend of Vonn’s, and the Italian has shown some fine form on the circuit this season, with two victories and two second places in the downhill, and also second and third placings in the super-G.

But the Italian said: “Vonn’s definitely the favourite, she has so much experience.

“The favourite is the one who builds the victory before racing in the best way.

“It’s not anymore a matter when you have to race in the Olympics on how you feel or how many training runs you’ve done, it’s how bad you want it at the start gate and how bad you believe it.”

100 percent crazy

Vonn said she and Goggia shared a friendship based on them being “100 percent crazy”.

“It’s downhill, it’s high speed, it’s big air, you really have to have some guts to send it down, I think that’s what I have and what Sofia has too, that’s why I like her so much,” Vonn said.

Giant slalom bronze medallist Federica Brignone, also Italian, added: “On this slope, Lindsey’s really the best one and she really can win, but it’s her head that must work perfectly.

“If all works, she’s going to win it.”

Turning to the slope, Brignone said it was “not so fast, and so easy, even a little boring”.

“I would like to see more action, more speed, more difficult spots. The snow is never steep so there’s no speed.”

Vonn said she was happy with her training run, with room for improvement in Tuesday’s third and final training run before the downhill proper.

“I definitely didn’t ski the top very well and lost some time up there, but I think the middle bit I skied quite well. Maybe I can make some adjustments on the bottom, I was watching Sofia’s run and she skied a different line in a couple of sections, so I will do some analysing to see what’s actually faster.”

Vonn again touched on the virulent Twitter backlash against her for her political opinions.

“I always try and remember that it’s people talking behind a computer and they’re going to say anything,” she said after accusations that she is anti-American for her outspoken stance against US President Donald Trump.

“The most important thing is that I’m having a good time, I’m enjoying being at the Olympics, my family’s here.

“Of course there’s going to be people who hate me and hope I ski off a cliff and die, but it’s fine I’m not going to do that!”

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 12:07 IST