Getty Images

Lindsey Vonn explains her uniquely placed tattoos

2 Comments

You won’t see Lindsey Vonn‘s tattoos when she’s in her full-body race suit, obviously. You won’t see them when she’s working out in the gym. Or when posing on a red carpet.

The 2010 Olympic downhill champion got her first permanent tattoo about a year ago. It’s the outline of a shark. And it’s strategically placed on the side of one of her fingers.

“[The shark is] just to signify always moving forward,” Vonn, who previously swam with sharks, said at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Gold Medal Gala in New York City last week. “Sharks can’t move backwards. They can’t stand still. Otherwise they die. So, I just have to keep that in mind. Keep remembering to stay focused on my goals and always go after them.”

Vonn revealed the shark to Snapchat followers on the morning of Jan. 21. “Game day,” she captioned the image from Germany.

Hours later, Vonn won a downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (video here), marking her return to the top after the most painful injury of her career two months earlier.

Then this summer, Vonn got a second tattoo. It’s the word “believe” in Greek. Again, on the inside of a finger.

“Signifying my last Olympics [in 2018] and just need to believe in myself,” she said.

The tattoo placements are reminiscent of actor Bryan Cranston, who got the “Breaking Bad” logo tattooed on the inside of a finger. That way it was hidden, but he could look at it anytime he wanted.

Why did Vonn choose that space?

“I’m going to keep that a secret,” she said.

Vonn answered questions about other news topics:

On how confident she is that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will accept her bid to race men next fall, in light of critical comments from top European ski officials:

“I’m not confident, but at the same time we still have some wiggle room. We still have quite a few months. Hopefully, I can get my point across and I can maybe convince someone that sees me as a princess and be able to change his mind. But, you know, I’m not holding my breath. If it doesn’t work, then I will find another solution. But it will happen one way or the other.”

On whether that created tension when she raced in Austria two weeks ago:

“I think they all realize that their comments weren’t appropriate, and they choose not to engage me. Which is smart on their part.”

On world downhill champion Ilka Stuhec suffering a season-ending ACL tear:

“I found out from her Twitter feed. I think FIS retweeted it, or one of those ski outlets retweeted it. I was shocked. She was in really great shape. I just saw her in Chile [at preseason training]. Obviously, it’s incredibly disappointing to see a big star from our sport go down right before the Games. But she’s one of quite a few, unfortunately, this spring and summer and fall, already. All I can do is hope that she comes back strong. I’ve done it, so I know she can, too.”

Would it mean anything different to win Olympic downhill gold without the reigning world champion in the field?

“Sochi went on without me, without the reigning world champion as well [Marion Rolland of France]. It is what it is. It’s part of the sport. People come and go. Injuries happen. That’s life. Whoever is in the starting gate that day is who you have to beat.”

On her friendship with Olympic champion gymnast Aly Raisman:

“She has really good morals and great character. I really enjoy spending time with her. She’s a young athlete, so it’s fun to see her grow and mature in just the few months that I’ve known her. She might be the Olympic athlete that I’m closest to, probably, but I still have my teammates in Alpine skiing as well.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 100 Olympic storylines 100 days out from PyeongChang

Erin Hamlin nears end of historic U.S. luge career

AP
Leave a comment

Erin Hamlin is looking forward to normalcy. She is getting married next summer in her hometown. She is thinking about career moves. She is trying to figure out the rest of her life.

It is probably her last luge season. It is definitely her last Olympic season.

As such, it would be easy to fall into the trap of saying that winning a gold medal at PyeongChang in February would be the only thing that makes this season a success.

It’s important, sure, but Hamlin is entering her 13th year of World Cup racing with a much broader view and insisting that she’s going to enjoy whatever time she has left on her sled.

“I’m not going to hyperfocus myself on one result or bust,” Hamlin said. “Very likely, it’s going to be my last time in a lot of places, sliding on a lot of tracks. So I think more so, it’s going to be a lot of soaking it all in.”

That process starts Saturday, when the World Cup season opens in Igls, Austria.

Hamlin, who turns 31 on Sunday, is coming off the finest year of her career — she won a gold medal and two silvers at the world championships for the biggest haul ever by an American luger, got two World Cup wins and finished fourth in world rankings.

She might be going out, and there’s a chance she can go out on top.

“We’re working hard to convince her to stay,” longtime U.S. teammate Emily Sweeney said.

Sweeney knows that’s probably futile.

Sliders always tend to cycle out after an Olympics, no matter if it’s bobsled, skeleton or luge, and the Americans will see plenty of veterans take their last rides this winter.

A few U.S. sliders already retired this fall, in part because they weren’t going to have a shot at an Olympic berth.

For her part, Hamlin hasn’t officially said this is the end.

“There’s never really as concrete of a plan as you hope there would be, because you never know what can happen,” Hamlin said. “But at the moment, what I’m excited to do is see what other opportunities are there and what other adventures await.”

Hamlin has been in the world’s top 10 in each of the past 11 seasons — the second-longest current streak of any woman in luge, one year behind German legend Tatjana Huefner.

She won a World Cup each of the past three years, took the world title in sprint last winter and became the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist in 2014 with a bronze.

A lesson learned that season: Not expecting much can work wonders. That’s one of the reasons why PyeongChang isn’t taking up all the bandwidth in her brain.

“That’s the nature of winter sports in a Winter Olympic year, there being so much focus on the Games,” Hamlin said. “How I went into the last Olympics taught me a lot. I had no expectation of walking away from the last Olympics with a medal. At this point, goal No. 1 is to make the team and beyond that, I know if I slide as I’m capable of I can be pretty fast and I can do well.”

The schedule this season is hectic.

This weekend’s stop in Austria starts a run of five races in five weekends, with the next two in Germany followed by another in Calgary, Alberta, and then on home ice in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 15-16.

When that Lake Placid World Cup is over, the U.S. Olympic team will be named.

So when Hamlin needs an escape from all that, the wedding is there to bring her back to reality.

It will be at her parents’ home in July. It will, without question, be the social event of the season in Remsen, N.Y., where the one-time high school soccer player has annually left her tiny hometown brimming with pride.

“Pretty exciting,” Hamlin said. “It’s definitely adding a whole new aspect to an Olympic year, planning a wedding, but it’s cool. It gives me a good distraction when I need to think about something other than sliding.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. luge head coach steps down due to Parkinson’s

Kaetlyn Osmond leads Grand Prix France as co-favorite falls (video)

Leave a comment

Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond topped the Grand Prix France short program, moving closer to another Grand Prix Final berth on Friday.

The world silver medalist was flawed — performing a triple-double combination rather than a triple-triple and putting a hand down on another jump landing.

She goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 1.26-point lead over Russian Maria Sotskova. Japan’s Yuna Shiraiwa is third, while the lone American Polina Edmunds is ninth.

Co-favorite Alina Zagitova of Russia fell and dropped to fifth place in Grenoble.

In the short dance, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron improved on their personal best with 81.40 points, the third-highest all-time in an eight-year-old system.

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead French Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres by 4.66 going into Saturday’s pairs free skate.

The event continues later Friday with the men’s short, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Osmond, 21, was a revelation last season, winning her first Grand Prix medals in four years, making her first Grand Prix Final and finishing second to dominant Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva at worlds.

She’s continued that this fall, winning her first two events in Canada to solidify Olympic medal favorite status. One Canadian woman has won an individual Olympic medal in the last 25 years — Joannie Rochette‘s emotional bronze in 2010.

Zagitova, the 15-year-old world junior champion, fell on her opening triple Lutz. Zagitova won her Grand Prix debut in China two weeks ago and ranks second to training partner Medvedeva in top scores this season.

Medvedeva, Zagitova and Sotskova are the favorites to claim Russia’s three Olympic women’s spots. Sotskova, 17, made the podium in all three of her Grand Prix starts but was a disappointing eighth at last season’s worlds.

Edmunds tallied 56.31 points Friday, stepping out of the landing of her opening triple-triple jump combination.

Still, she improved on her short program from her earlier event this season, where she scored 49.62 with errors on all of her jumps.

Edmunds, the youngest U.S. Olympic competitor across all sports in Sochi, went 20 months between competitions, missing the entire 2016-17 season due to a bone bruise in her right foot.

She is an underdog to make the three-woman U.S. team for PyeongChang that will be named after nationals in January.

Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva continued her string of underwhelming programs since her 2015 World title. She fell on a triple Axel attempt and singled a Lutz, plummeting to last place of 11 skaters.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Internationaux de France
Women’s Short Program
1. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 69.05
2. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 67.79
3. Yuna Shiraiwa (JPN) — 66.05
9. Polina Edmunds (USA) — 56.31

Short Dance
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 81.40
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 73.55
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 70.02
6. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit (USA) — 60.64

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 77.84
2. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) — 73.18
3. Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (ITA) — 70.65
6. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 58.99