Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn: My Comeback, Part 2

In an exclusive blog for The Red Bulletin, Vonn shares her experiences on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit and the next phase of her training in Beaver Creek.

January 8, 2015

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you spent it with the ones you love. I have so much to be thankful for this year. I spent my Christmas far from the cold and snow with Tiger in Florida. I went road biking and spent time enjoying being off the snow—it felt like a mini-vacation. I needed this week to recover and prepare for the big road ahead of me. January will be a testament to my confidence and training as I go through three consecutive weekends of speed racing in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Cortina, and St. Moritz.

I’m happy that I get to spend this next week in Beaver Creek training for my speed races because last weekend [at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Val d’Isère, France], although I’m thrilled with the result and glad my knee is holding up, proved to me that I need more time to train. I think at least some of the girls on the circuit had a difficult time in Val d’Isere with the weather conditions and not getting enough training. First, there wasn’t enough snow, and then there was too much—weather is what makes skiing such a difficult and dangerous sport that many people overlook. 

On top of the weather, there were three holds on the course for the training run of the Downhill event because the first jump was too big. Some people were getting up to about 165 feet in the air and an Austrian racer crashed and blew out her knee. This was really nerve racking for me, but I would say it made me anxious rather than nervous because I haven’t had big air in a long time. I’m to the point now where I can really trust my knee, but there are always those “what ifs” in the back of my head. Like in Schladming [where she suffered two torn ligaments in her right knee and a broken bone in her lower leg at the Super G Alpine FIS Ski World Championships]—what if I land in soft snow off of a jump again? With only one training run, I didn’t feel prepared. 

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn wins a cow at the alpine skiing downhill competition during the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Val d’Isère, France.

I skied well on the top section of the Downhill, but then I made a huge mistake in the middle section. I came into a difficult turn with big terrain and too much speed. I made a huge recovery from nearly skiing off course. I’ve had success here before so I knew what kind of skiing would win the race—I didn’t give up and continued to ski aggressively and was able to make up the time to win the race. What was most significant about this race was that I feel that I am back to the point where I can make mistakes and still win.

Unfortunately the Super-G didn’t go as I’d hoped. With all the crashes the day before in the downhill, it is emotionally draining to watch those crashes and still be mentally prepared to ski aggressively without fear. I was on the hill for the downhill at 8:30 a.m., but didn’t get back to the hotel until 3:00 p.m., so it was a long day for me and I was tired going into the Super-G. I thought I skied well but something was off. I was a bit low in the line and caught an edge on some soft snow, crashing on my side and into a gate. My elbow still hurts but it’s more of a nuisance than anything. I tore some muscles in it but it’s nothing that will affect my training or my races coming up. It should be better in a couple of weeks.  

“I feel that I am back to the point where I can make mistakes and still win.”

Luckily for me I have good friends and support from my family so I couldn’t get too down about the Super-G. After the race I took a helicopter to Zurich for a Swiss TV show and then met up with Roger Federer who was playing an exhibition tennis match against another Swiss tennis player, Stan Wawrinka. It was a friendly game for Roger’s foundation and a great match to watch with some pretty awesome shots. It’s nice to have great athletes in your circle to count on for advice and understanding. It has always been a good way for me to put things into perspective. 

I hope to pass that inspiration on as I start my foundation this year.  I’ve put a lot of hard work into my comeback but it’s also given me a chance to do something even more important by starting a legacy of giving back. I’ve had so much support over the years that I want to build a support system for kids to follow their dreams. 

While I look into the future this next year, I see new luck, new defeats, new records, and new beginnings with no what ifs but with certainty. I started training on the World Champs course New Year’s Day and can’t wait for these next three races!

Wishing everyone a happy new year full of new challenges!

-LV

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