Lindsey Vonn, after hearing European ski officials criticize her bid to race men, said that women are viewed as “second-rate” and “the pony show” on the World Cup circuit.
“I think it’s important for women to have equal rights,” Vonn said in a video interview posted by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “Sometimes there is a line, but I think that we need to balance that as best we can. There are definitely instances where we aren’t equal to men. It’s not always fair. Definitely is a generalization that we are kind of second-rate on the World Cup. You know, we’re the pony show, and the men are the real race horses. So that’s always disappointing to hear, but I think there definitely is a discrepancy in the level. Men are definitely better than women, so that is true. Yeah, I think that in general those offensive comments, people should just keep them to themselves.”
FIS is expected to rule in May on a U.S. Ski and Snowboard team proposal for Vonn to race men in November 2018 at Lake Louise, which holds men’s and women’s races annually on the World Cup tour. It’s Vonn’s most successful venue, where she has won 18 times in 41 starts.
“I would hope that I would be somewhere around 20th [place against the men],” Vonn said earlier this month, echoing her previously stated goal. “I know that they’re the next level, and I want to get to that next level. It’s that reason that I want to race with them. I’m not really trying to prove anything. I know they can beat me, but I want to see where I stand.”
In the Aftonbladet interview, Vonn denied suggestions that she wanted to race men as a publicity stunt.
“I have enough media. I don’t need to do this for a show,” she said. “It’s just for me, for my personal ambition because the men are the next level. I want to compare myself against them. I train with them all the time. It makes me ski better, and I want to see what it’s like to race with them in a regular World Cup competition. I don’t want do some exhibition. I don’t want to do a show. I want it to be a real race. It’s pretty disappointing to hear some of the negative comments I’ve gotten, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion.”
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