Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn says she’s healthy enough to win now

1 Comment

Lindsey Vonn won’t race for another three weeks, but she’s already feeling like a champion.

The Olympic downhill gold medalist told reporters on Friday that she’s ready to win a World Cup super-G.

“Super-G is really good, it’s probably some of the best super-G I’ve ever skied in my life,” Vonn said in Vail, Colo., according to the Denver Post. “I found the right setup — the right skis, boots, everything is working well — and I’ve had the most super-G training of any event so far in this preparation period. I definitely feel like that event is 100 percent.

“Now it’s just branching out and getting a little bit more comfortable with downhill, which should be no problem, and getting in some more training days in (giant slalom).”

Vonn, 29, is coming back from blowing out her knee at the World Championships in February. She trained in Austria last month but opted not to race the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 26.

Her first races are expected to be a downhill, super-G and a giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

“It would be huge for me if I could win in Beaver Creek,” Vonn said, according to the newspaper. “Obviously that’s expecting a lot, my first race back. But I feel like I don’t have any pressure, honestly.

“I think I’m going to be just fine when I get to the races, but I’m not expecting anything. I’m not expecting to be on the podium, I’m not expecting a win. I’m just going to go out there and see what I can do. If I can continue training the way I am, I think the result’s going to be good.”

Vonn also said the record for most career World Cup wins held by Annemarie Moser-Proell should be attainable this season. Vonn needs four victories to pass the Austrian, but that’s not her primary concern.

“My focus is definitely on Sochi,” she said. “I want to be able to win on the World Cup before we get to Sochi. I want to go into Sochi with confidence, knowing that I can win.”

The Olympics begin with the super combined Feb. 10 and then the downhill Feb. 12. If Vonn shows she’s healthy during the World Cup season, she’ll be the favorite in the latter.

“It’s very different because I already have a gold medal,” Vonn told the Denver Post. “I feel like the pressure’s off. My childhood dream has been to win a gold medal in the Olympics, and I’ve already accomplished that, so everything from here on out is just icing on the cake.”

Vonn also said she wasn’t sure yet if Tiger Woods will be able to attend any of her races this season, according to USA Today.

Video: Lindsey Vonn calls Tiger Woods ‘dorky-goofy’

Laurie Hernandez explains wink, nervous Olympic moments in book excerpt

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  Lauren Hernandez of the United States prepares ro compete on the balance beam during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two of Laurie Hernandez‘s most memorable moments in Rio were mouthing “I got this” before her team final balance beam routine and winking at judges before her floor exercise.

The former became the title of her book, “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” due out Tuesday. The latter she also details in the book’s pages.

Hernandez, the first U.S. female Olympian born in the 2000s, is the third member of the Final Five to pen a book.

Hernandez took team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, becoming the youngest individual U.S. Olympic gymnastics medalist since 1992 (Shannon Miller).

She then became the youngest winner of “Dancing with the Stars,” which she also reviews in the book.

Here’s an excerpt from “I Got This,” where Hernandez looks at her Rio Olympic experience:

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense. So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment. For me that moment happened during my floor routine in the team finals, just before we won. I spontaneously winked at one of the judges and everyone there, and at home, seemed to love that. But honestly I don’t know what came over me. Right before I went on, I was so nervous I looked at the team and said, “Guys, I’m so scared. It’s the last event, what if I mess up?” Any time you are competing as a team you have those worries—I know I had certainly felt the same way at international meets. Thankfully, the girls assured me that wasn’t going to happen. They said, “No, no, no, you’re fine. Don’t worry about it. We’re a few points ahead, so just go out there and enjoy yourself.”

I made my way toward the warm-up area. I was feeling pretty good by then, so I stood to the side and took a deep breath. I wanted to soak in everything around me, because it was definitely a major moment. I scanned the cheering crowd and all I saw was a sea of green. Brazil’s colors are yellow, blue, and green, and the entire arena was decked out in green. The mats were green, the logos were green, everything around me was green, and for a split second, I found it kind of intimidating because in the United States, all our equipment is blue. Even a seemingly small difference like that can be jarring.

Then all of a sudden I heard this beep. It was coming from the little TV screen in the warm-up area that lists your name, your country, and the event you’re about to compete in. My screen read Lauren Hernandez, USA, Floor Exercise. After I heard the beep, the screen switched to GO, which meant I had to go salute the judges and begin.

When I stood up on the floor, I could see one of the out-of-bounds judges in my line of vision. That is the judge who checks to make sure your foot never crosses over the white line. Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink. After I did that, I went on to do an amazing routine. When it was done, I was so proud of myself! Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone and Aly compete in their all-around finals and she said, “Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, “Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.” That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was “Oh my goodness.”

When I think back on the Olympics, there were only two times I was anxious for myself or for one of my teammates. In my beam routine, I always find the triple series (or what is called a flight series) a little nerve-racking. That’s when I have to perform three moves in a row backward: I do a back handspring, followed by a layout step-out, followed by another layout step-out. I had a good feeling before I was going to compete that I would hit it, but it’s something I’m always slightly worried about in the back of my mind. The other thing that had me holding my breath was Aly’s first tumble, because she does so much in that pass. I don’t think she’s ever worried about it, because in her head she’s doing everything she needs to do to execute it beautifully. But as you watch, there’s a lot going on, so you fear something might go wrong. She basically does a round off, a backward one-and-a-half twist, and then she steps out of that to connect to another round-off, a back handspring, and then she does this spring called a double Arabian and basically goes up in the air to do a half turn and double front flip connected to a front layout, which is a front flip with a straight leg where her whole body is open. It’s incredible! It’s so insane. It wows me every single time.”

MORE: Hernandez discusses her 2017 plans

Laurie Hernandez

How to watch U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday

Leave a comment

U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage begins Thursday, live on NBCSN and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app, starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The pairs and women’s short programs are scheduled in Kansas City.

The NBC Sports All-Access page will provide live scoring and more all week.

Pairs short program
5:30-7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

Women’s short program
9:30 p.m.-midnight ET, NBCSN
STREAM LINK | SKATE ORDER | PREVIEW

In pairs, defending champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea take on a field including two-time Skate America silver medalists Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier as well as 2014 Olympians Marissa Castelli and Nathan Bartholomay, each skating with different partners since Sochi.

The women are headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner, seeking to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years at age 25.

She could be challenged by defending champion Gracie Gold, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Skate America silver medalist Mariah Bell.

The pairs and women’s free skates will be Saturday, on NBC and streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: Gracie Gold forgives herself, eight months after worlds failure