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Lindsey Vonn’s bid to race men has support, but delayed

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Lindsey Vonn will not learn if she will be allowed to race men until after the Olympics.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) executive board tabled the U.S. proposal until May, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

FIS was originally expected to review it and possibly decide on it on Thursday at meetings in Zurich.

It was tabled because Vonn’s proposal is to race men not this upcoming season, but in the 2018-19 season.

“There is support for the proposal among members of the executive board, but also many points to clarify with FIS,” U.S. Alpine Director Patrick Riml said in a press release. “We’re encouraged by the discussion and the fact that we now have a formal proposal in front of FIS which we can review with FIS in more detail during the season ahead.”

Vonn, eyeing what should be her fourth and final Olympics, plans to open her season the first week of December at her favorite venue, Lake Louise.

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Lindsey Vonn’s proposal to race men to be heard

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A proposal for Lindsey Vonn to race men will be formally put forward for the first time by U.S. Ski and Snowboard at International Ski Federation (FIS) meetings next week.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard proposal is for Vonn to be able to race any World Cup downhill during the 2018-19 season, possibly Vonn’s last before retirement.

It’s unknown if FIS will decide on the proposal when it is heard in Zurich on Oct. 5.

“Further details are still unknown, but this is certainly an anticipated topic that divides the FIS officials,” the organization said in a press release Wednesday.

Vonn prefers the venue to be Lake Louise, where she has won 18 times in 41 career World Cup starts.

If Vonn were to race men and finish in the top 30, which is reportedly her goal, she would not displace a men’s skier from earning World Cup points, the USSA proposal says.

It’s believed that a woman has never competed in a men’s World Cup Alpine skiing race. It’s unknown if a woman has ever competed in a men’s event in any FIS competition, in any sport at any level.

Vonn petitioned the International Ski Federation (FIS) both in 2012 and this year (and perhaps instances in between) to race men in Lake Louise, which traditionally hosts men’s speed races in late November and women’s speed races the following weekend.

The bids have been denied so far.

FIS said in 2012 “that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other.”

After FIS discussed the topic in May, FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal said that if Vonn is allowed to enter a men’s race, then men must be allowed to ski with women.

“It will be a very difficult challenge to find a reasonable way of doing this because one point that everyone is underestimating is that we need to have equal rights for everyone,” Skaardal, a 1996 and 1997 World super-G champion for Norway, said in a press release. “So if the ladies are allowed to race with the men, then also the men need to be authorized to ski with the ladies, and I’m not sure this is a direction we want to go.”

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Lindsey Vonn sets first race of Olympic season

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Lindsey Vonn will open the Olympic season at her most successful venue — Lake Louise, Alberta, the first weekend of December.

The 2010 Olympic downhill champion will not race earlier World Cup giant slaloms in Austria in October and Killington, Vt., on Thanksgiving weekend, she said from a preseason camp in Chile on Thursday.

Instead, Vonn will wait to enter the first speed races (downhill, super-G) at Lake Louise, where she has won 18 times in 41 World Cup starts.

That’s no surprise.

Vonn, 32, has focused on speed events in recent injury-shortened seasons as she chases the World Cup wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

That includes last year, when she got a late start due to the most painful injury of her career — a severely fractured humerus bone in her right arm suffered Nov. 10.

Vonn came back for win No. 77, plus a world championships bronze medal. More importantly for her Olympic prospects, Vonn finished second in both World Cup races at the PyeongChang Olympic venue.

Vonn does plan to race giant slalom this season. Perhaps starting in Courchevel, France, on Dec. 19.

“I want to make sure I’m ready when I start GS,” she said.

Vonn said in April that she also intended to race the giant slalom at her likely final Olympics in February. The Olympic schedule makes it more enticing.

The women’s technical events of giant slalom and slalom are in the first week of the PyeongChang Winter Games. The downhill and super-G are in the second week.

“It’s going to be good for me to get over there early, get settled in, get one race under my belt,” Vonn said in April.

Vonn last raced giant slalom Jan. 30, 2016, and last won a GS on Dec. 12, 2015, her only finish better than fifth in a GS since the first of her recent major injuries in February 2013.

“Before I was injured, the season before I won a GS [in 2012], so I know that I can ski well,” Vonn, who owns four career World Cup GS wins, said in April. “It’s just a matter of if I have a healthy prep period I can train it.”

The world’s best GS skiers are Frenchwoman Tessa Worley and Mikaela Shiffrin, who went one-two in last year’s World Cup standings and at the world championships.

Vonn is still expected to retire after the 2018-19 season, though she left the door open slightly Thursday.

“I could be just like Bode [Miller], and I keep going forever and ever and you never know when I’m going to stop,” she said with a straight face.

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