Winter Olympics: Emotional Vonn admits 'body hurts' after downhill bronze

Yahoo Sport UK
United States’ Lindsey Vonn smiles in the finish area after competing in the women’s downhill at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
United States’ Lindsey Vonn smiles in the finish area after competing in the women’s downhill at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Lindsey Vonn blinked into the flashbulbs and blinked back the tears, writes James Toney in PyeongChang.

She’d said she’d turn down a trip to the White House if she won Olympic gold. Now she doesn’t have to worry the invitation, perhaps a silver – or should that be bronze – lining to these Games.

Vonn hit out a bullies who targeted her after she made comments which were critical of President Trump and insisted she wouldn’t change her views.

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And while she couldn’t shut them up with the women’s downhill gold she wanted so badly – she was rightly proud of third place in her final Games.

“For all the people that say bad things there are ten more that say nice things,” she said.

“If you think what’s happened over the last eight years and what I’ve been through to get here, I gave it all and to come away with a medal is a dream come true.

“You’ve got to put things into perspective. Of course, I’d have loved a gold medal but, honestly, this is amazing and I’m so proud.”

Gold medal winner Sofia Goggia, of Italy, reacts during the flower ceremony for the women’s downhill at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Gold medal winner Sofia Goggia, of Italy, reacts during the flower ceremony for the women’s downhill at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Jeongseon, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Vonn has been battling with her emotions since arriving in South Korea, appearing to teeter on the edge of a breakdown in almost every interview.

She was moved to tears when discussing the memory of her late grandfather, her ski racing inspiration, who passed away in November and whose initials she wears on her helmet.

And the tears flowed again as the enormity of the occasion hit home – her final Olympic downhill race.

Vonn was attempting to become only the second skier after Germany’s Katja Seizinger to win two women’s Olympic titles in skiing’s blue riband event.

After winning gold in Vancouver – where she also took super-G bronze – she missed Sochi because of a knee injury and struggled for much of last season after breaking her arm and suffering nerve damage in her hand.

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Just making these Games looked, to most observers, a distant possibility. But Vonn doesn’t listen to ‘most observers’.

She will compete again in the alpine combined event but she’s not expecting a medal. And she plans to ski another season – with just six victories needed to break retired Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time record of 85 World Cup victories.

“I going to miss the Olympics and that’s why I’m so emotional,” she added.

“I love racing in the Olympics with so much pressure that you feel suffocated. However, you throw yourselves down that mountain with the hope of a medal.

“I just wish my body didn’t hurt as bad as it does. It’s sad, I love what I do, but my body just probably can’t take another four years. I’m just counting on some medical miracles to extend my career a bit longer.

“It was tough to contemplate this being my last Olympic downhill race. I struggled to keep the emotions together but I’m proud of my performance.

“It’s been really hard for me not to get emotional for so many reasons, especially because of my grandfather. I wanted to win so much because of him, but I still think I made him proud.”

  • Can Team GB add to their four medals in the final days of competition? Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app 

Sofia Goggia produced a storming run to win Italy’s first downhill gold medallist since Zeno Colo won the men’s title in 1952 and Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel, a silver medallist in the giant slalom, won the same medal again, dropping Vonn down a position after starting 19th in the field of 39 skiers.

“I’ve no regrets. I skied really well but I think Sofia is untouchable and I knew she would be the one to beat,” added Vonn.

Goggia was quick to pay tribute to Vonn after claiming her own place in sporting history.

“Lindsey is the greatest skier of all-time, she’s also a great person and a great woman. Everyone is bowing to Lindsey,” she added.

“It’s always an honour to take part in the same race as her and call her my friend. I was watching her on the sofa when she won in Vancouver and I wished one day just to race against her and perhaps I’ve not realised that I’ve got a downhill gold medal like her too.

“I’m going to erupt as soon as I get that gold medal.”

  • Can Team GB add to their four medals in the final days of competition? Don’t miss a moment of the Olympic Winter Games at Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app 

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