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Lindsey Vonn

The golden girl talks to EO about the year ahead and how to keep the torch burning.

She is the most decorated American skier—man or woman—in history, with an Olympic gold (downhill, 2010), three consecutive overall World Cup championships (2008, 2009, 2010) and 33 World Cup wins in four disciplines (downhill, Super G, slalom and super combined). She’s also transformed into a magazine cover girl, model, spokeswoman and role model. So what’s left to achieve? We caught up with Lindsey Vonn in late September to talk skiing, training, “Law and Order” and whether she has become an icon.

You’re heading into the 2010/2011 World Cup season following a spectacular year. What was your summer training regimen?
Every year, I take a hard look at what I did the season before and evaluate what I could have done better. This summer, I worked on explosive power and agility. I spent six to eight hours a day, six days a week in the gym, starting from the middle of May to now. I also went to Austria for three weeks to train with my Red Bull trainers. That’s fantastic because we have the chance to get away from everything and have our own private training camp.

You went into the Olympics with a bruised shin. Clearly, you overcame that challenge, but it looked as if the injury persisted throughout the rest of the season. How is it now?
After the season ended, I took two months off where I didn’t do anything in the gym and didn’t do anything at all, really. I needed the rest. My body is feeling much better. I’m positive it won’t give me any more trouble in the upcoming season.

With two Olympic medals and a World Cup Championship, it’s hard to believe there was much you could have done better last season.
There are always things you can do better, no matter how successful your last season was. Last year I wanted to go into the Olympics the strongest I’ve ever been and I definitely accomplished that. But my giant slalom and slalom events weren’t as good as they had been in the past. I feel comfortable in downhill and super G but the technical events can be better. I have a lot I want to accomplish this year and so I worked really hard in the off-season to prepare.

You recently got back into town from Portillo. How were the conditions and how does the U.S. Ski Team look this year?
The girls look great. There are going to be some up-and-coming athletes this year and I am really looking forward to being with them on the team. We heard some bad reports about a low snow year and poor conditions. We weren’t sure it was going to be good, but we got some really good training in. The terrain was more pronounced since there wasn’t a lot of snow. It made it really challenging, but that’s good. That’s what you want in the summer.

You gained notoriety for skiing on men’s skis during the Olympics—what will you be skiing on this year?
I’ll be skiing on men’s skis again, and my gear will be very similar to what I was on last year, maybe even the same gear I was on last year. I’m working with Head to make a new ski. We’ve made a lot of progress. It’s not ready yet, though. It’s always about testing the equipment and coming up with something new.

You are a hero to the six-year-old daughter of the editor of Elevation Outdoors. While learning to ski last year she said she wanted to be you. She’s clearly not alone. How do you feel about being a role model to girls?
It’s surreal. I remember when I was a kid and I saw Picabo Street who made a huge impact in my life and became my mentor. I want to set a good example and help kids as much as I can. As a professional athlete, it is important. I take that part of the job extremely seriously.

It’s well known that you were a big fan of “Law and Order” and even appeared on what became the show’s last episode. What was your reaction when you heard the show was cancelled?
I was really depressed. I love that show. My entire family is a huge fan. I had so much fun being on the episode. It was one of the most exciting and cool experiences I’ve had in my life.

You have achieved a huge amount of fame and media exposure. What are the pros and cons of your ascent?
Honestly, things have changed, definitely, but I am still better known in Europe than I am in the United States. During the Olympics it was hyper media frenzy and things were crazy. But now I am still your average Joe walking down the street and no one knows who I am. That said, ski racing is becoming more popular in the U.S. and the success of our team really helps increase the popularity. I hope that translates into getting more fans for the World Cup.

Some ski racers dabble in ski films or big-mountain freeriding. Are there other disciplines in the sport that interest you?
I don’t know if I could compete in another part of skiing, but I really enjoy freeskiing and I got a chance this spring to shoot with Warren Miller for this season’s film, “Wintervention.” If I were given the opportunity to do another discipline, it would probably be skiercross. Seeing my competitors next to me would really get me fired up.

Tell us about your relationships with your sponsors (Red Bull, Rolex, Vail Resorts, Under Armour, Head Skis, Alka Seltzer, Oakley).
I have a great relationship with my sponsors. With Red Bull, I have my own team: a massage therapist, a trainer. They support me not only financially but specifically in my career. I am also able to train at Vail whenever I need to. It’s great to have people like that behind you. I feel incredibly fortunate to have that. •

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