Reuters - Fri, 19 Mar 07:06:00 2010
American Lindsey Vonn will take some time off to recover from a gruelling Alpine skiing season before the Olympic gold medallist launches her campaign for more medals in Sochi.
Vonn bruised a knee, battered a shin and broke a finger in the last days of a season that brought her a first Olympic gold in the downhill in Vancouver and a third successive World Cup overall title.
"My body is really beat up after the season and I need to recharge my batteries," the American said as she slid off a pink cast to show the swelling in her broken right little finger.
Vonn was proud of setting the US mark for most World Cup victories with 33 by winning last week's final giant slalom, but said her Olympic downhill crown was the biggest thrill.
"The Olympic gold medal was the highlight of my career to date," the 25-year-old said.
"It's a big relief to have had that success. To be able to say I'm an Olympic champion is a dream come true.
"It takes a lot of the pressure off me going into the future that I've accomplished a lifelong dream and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the next Olympics in Sochi."
Vonn claimed the World Cup super-G, super-combined and downhill titles this season, and became just the third woman to win three successive overall crowns joining Austrians Petra Kronberger (1990-92) and Annemarie Moser-Proell, who won five in a row from 1971-75 and added a sixth in 1979.
The Minnesota native said she would continue on to Sochi as an all-rounder with one eye on Bode Miller's US record of five Olympic alpine skiing medals.
"I feel like I want to keep going with five events until the next Olympics and then see how my body is holding up," said Vonn, noting she would have a chance at Miller's mark after her two medals in Vancouver, including bronze in the super-G.
"It's definitely possible. I know that I can be right there, I can be in the top three in all five. I hope in the next four years I can still be where I am today, and hopefully be even a little better."
First comes a little rest and recreation for the blond racer, who graced the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated before turning heads with her speed down Whistler's slopes.
After a spring break that will include beach time, tennis with her husband, movie premieres and a role in an episode of her favourite television show "Law and Order", Vonn will resume her workout regimen.
"I realise how much hard work pays off," she said. "The more I'm in the gym, the harder I work. The stronger I am makes me able to ski faster and able to ski those tighter lines.
"I'm in the gym six to eight hours a day, six days a week. Last year I went to Austria to train for over a month and had no contact with any friends, just my husband over the phone. Those are the types of sacrifices I'm willing to put in."
Further down the road, Vonn is looking forward to starting a family with her husband Thomas, a former Olympic skier.
"When I'm looking at the future, I really want to start a family. I had a big family when I grew up, four kids, and I want to have a big family and I don't want to start too late.
"I definitely want to have my kids grow up in the mountains so they can ski and I think (current home) Vail would be a great place. Thomas's family on his mother's side still live in Norway and I would like them to get over there, maybe go to school there for a year and experience another culture."
Just one other thing on the wish list.
"And a vacation house where it's warm and near the water," she said. "I've had quite a lot of snow in my life!"