Lindsey Vonn

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"My Favorite part of
ski racing is the speed.
I love speed,
I love the adrenaline,
I just want to go down
real fast."

LINDSEY VONN

She is already one of the most successful athletes in the history of skiing: downhill gold medalist at the 2010 Olympics; Overall World Cup winner in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012; owner of two gold and three silver medals from World Championships – American Briko athlete Lindsey Vonn.

Lindsey competes in all alpine disciplines – Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Super Combined – and is one of the few to have won Word Cup races in each discipline.

She also has won six consecutive World Cup season downhill titles (2008–2013), four consecutive Super G titles (2009–2012), and three consecutive Combined titles (2010–2012). With 59 World Cup victories in her career by the end of the 2013 Alpine Skiing World Cup, there are only two athletes left to beat: Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria with 62 and Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden with 86 victories.

Vonn's most successful discipline is the downhill. So who would know better how it feels like to ski fast? Let's talk about speed, Lindsey.

Let's talk about speed, Lindsey.

In which body part do you feel the speed most when skiing? In the stomach, your mind, the legs?
It’s a rush! I feel all the impact of the knolls and turns in my legs and core. It takes a lot to hold your tuck and to keep in sync with the fastest line down the mountain.

Is the speed sensation the same when racing or training?
It’s better when racing. Training is a bit more relaxed; when racing you have all your adrenaline pushing you down the hill – trying to beat the clock.

You race in all disciplines. Is the speed within gates with big carving turns as good as the speed in a downhill?
Well, that’s the challenge with more gates. It’s trying to keep your speed while making the turns with difficult terrain. Downhill is my favorite for the speed, but all events are a challenge.

Do you prefer fast gliding and long jumps, or do you prefe to feel the G-force in turns?
I love tucking through the turns and really feeling the speed push me – the G-force turns are an extreme adrenaline rush.

And when it gets really steep?
Well it’s all about control. A steep mountain is good for speed, but also very dangerous. The perfect mountains for me are in Vail, my hometown, or of course, Vancouver.

Does speed only get exciting when it feels dangerous or can it also be relaxing?
Speed is never relaxing, always dangerous, but it gets your heart pumping and that is what pushes you to keep that tuck.

Do you still have total control when you go fast?
That’s the problem! It’s a fight for both. That’s why I need to be the strongest I can be to obtain the control while also exerting myself 100 percent. If you were not physically strong enough, it would be impossible. Also, the skis are important, so that you feel comfortable and are able to make those turns.

Are you always aware of how fast you are ...
No. I don’t know exactly how fast I am going. But of course you can feel the difference between holding back and pushing your limits beyond the speed you normally go. It’s all about how comfortable you feel, and how in control of the course you are.

... or, when you are going too fast?
Yes, again, it’s all about how comfortable you are willing to go. With the fans and the crowd below in the finish cheering you on, it motivates me to push myself to go faster, but it’s always, always, important not to get out of control.

What is the right pace to enjoy speed?
It depends. Going fast is my job, I enjoy it when I’m training and freeskiing but it’s not something I necessarily think about when I’m racing. I only have one thing on my mind when I’m racing, and that’s to get to the finish the fastest – there’s no time to enjoy the view at 80 mph!

At approximately what velocity does it get dangerous?
It’s hard to say, like I’ve said before, it’s all about how in control you are, the difficulty of the course, the conditions. They all have a factor in being safe and perfect conditions don’t always mean it’s not dangerous on skis.

And after what distance or time does it get exhausting?
It gets very exhausting! It takes a lot of training to be able to be strong enough just to get to the finish.

Do you get queasy at any stage?
I don’t think I’ve ever been queasy from speed. It’s all part of my job!

How do you get every grain of speed out of yourself?
It’s really about the skis! The skis can push me that much faster, I just have to be strong enough to hang on and the mountain does the rest.

Does racing charge you up or wear you out?
Speed charges me up, it’s an incredible feeling but after races I am exhausted.

Does speed sometimes make you breathless?
Yes, I am always out of breath at the finish line.

Can you hear speed when you race/ski?
You can hear the wind going through your helmet, but mostly you can feel it on your face. Especially in negative degrees and windy weather it is painful to keep going fast.

Is speed more like a friend or a competitor?
Both! It’s a challenge to overcome and in overcoming speed, you start to like it.

Is speed something you have to conquer or is it simply something that accelerates you?
I would say both. You have to conquer it with, again, staying in control of it. Exactly like driving a car on the Autobahn – you can go as fast as you feel safe.

Do you sometimes dream about speed?
I dream of crossing the finish line the fastest, yes!

Do you sometimes hate speed, for example when it’s the cause for crashes?
Haha! Yes! It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt!

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