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Lindsey Vonn explains her uniquely placed tattoos

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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.”

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Skylar Diggins-Smith has the opportunity to fill USA Basketball’s need

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Skylar Diggins-Smith said making the U.S. Olympic team is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is her second chance.

An ACL tear derailed her Rio 2016 hopes. That happened in a WNBA game on June 28, 2015.

Though Diggins-Smith was among 25 Olympic finalists named in January 2016, she didn’t return to game action until that May, four weeks after the 12-woman Olympic team was chosen.

The 27-year-old guard said she’s played for USA Basketball for 12 years, since before her standout Notre Dame career that led to her current stint with the Dallas Wings (formerly Tulsa Shock).

“This is the most clear my mind has been,” with USA Basketball, Diggins-Smith said from training camp in Seattle on Tuesday, ahead of a Thursday exhibition against China at Key Arena (10 p.m. ET, usab.com/live).

Signs point to Diggins-Smith making her major international tournament debut at September’s FIBA World Cup, the quadrennial world championship event.

Though Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi‘s surprising returns crowd the backcourt, the other Olympic gold medalist guard, Lindsay Whalen, retired from the national team.

Diggins-Smith’s play last season, her first full campaign back from the ACL tear, boosts her case. She made the All-WNBA First Team.

She also made the first team in 2014. That year, Diggins-Smith was among the final cuts for the world championship team less than a week before the tournament.

“Every time I come to USA Basketball, I think you have a tendency to kind of overthink,” Diggins-Smith said Tuesday. “You just want to do the right thing, don’t really want to make mistakes. … You want to do the right thing, and you press a little bit.”

USA Basketball has stressed finding its next stalwart point guard following five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, three-time Olympian Dawn Staley (now the U.S. head coach) and the 37-year-old Bird, eyeing her fifth Olympics in 2020.

“Give me three guards that have separated themselves from everyone else in the WNBA to put themselves at the same level as Sue, Diana, Lindsay Whalen,” then-U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said after the Olympic team was named in April 2016. “You really start to look around and, you go, that is a huge question that has to be answered.”

“Obviously, there’s a need,” Staley said in February, listing point guards other than Bird at that camp.

The first name Staley mentioned was Diggins-Smith, for what it’s worth.

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USA Track and Field to honor 1968 Olympic team on 50th anniversary

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USA Track and Field begins a campaign this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic team.

Members of the Mexico City Games team, one of the greatest track and field teams in history, will be honored at high-profile events the remainder of the year.

The campaign, “1968-2018: Celebrating Athletic Achievement and Courage,” culminates with a “Night of Legends” reunion in December at the USATF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, also attended by current U.S. stars.

The 1968 Olympic team is most remembered for Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who took gold and bronze in the 200m and were sent home after raising their black-gloved fists in a human rights salute during the national anthem.

The team also included gold medalists Bob Beamon (long jump), Dick Fosbury (high jump), Al Oerter (discus), Wyomia Tyus and Jim Hines (100m), Lee Evans (400m), Madeline Manning Mims (800m), Willie Davenport (110m hurdles), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Randy Matson (shot put), Bill Toomey (decathlon) and the men’s and women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m.

“The legacy of the greatest track & field team to ever be assembled is still felt 50 years later,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said in a press release. “These Olympians persevered through athletic challenges and social injustices, maintaining their composure and dignity when others may have fallen. It is USATF’s honor to pay homage to their achievements and bring the team together for an epic celebration at our Annual Meeting.”

U.S. track and field athletes will compete at two meets on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold this weekend — the Drake Relays and Penn Relays.

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