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Lindsey Vonn to release memoir

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NEW YORK (AP) — Lindsey Vonn, the retired alpine skiing champion, is ready to look back.

Vonn’s memoir, “Rise: My Story,” will come next year, Dey Street Books announced Monday.

Vonn will describe her “epic journey” from childhood in Minnesota to international fame; her achievements, including 82 World Cup wins and three Olympic medals; and the injuries ranging from fractures near her left knee joint to a broken arm, that made her decide to quit.

“I think I have plenty to talk about with my injuries, obviously, my entire career and my personal life, my family,” Vonn told The Associated Press during a red carpet appearance Monday. “There’s a lot that’s happened in my life, and I feel like I want to share that and empower other women to be independent and strong and believe in themselves.”

In a statement issued through Dey Street, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, the 34-year-old Vonn said she was “digging deep” into her life and her determination to keep going “up and down the mountains.”

Vonn retired in February after the world championships in Are, Sweden. She won a bronze medal in her final race, the downhill competition.

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MORE: Vonn wins special honor at Laureus World Sports Awards

Vonn’s retirement signals end of an era for U.S. Ski Team

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ARE, Sweden — It was a telling sign that in Lindsey Vonn’s last race there was only one other American skier competing.

Two days later, the U.S. couldn’t even enter a squad for the team event at the world championships because it didn’t have enough skiers available.

And as for the men’s slalom team, the one that produced the likes of Bode Miller and Ted Ligety? Well, that’s been practically eliminated.

“We are dwindling,” Vonn said. “I can’t remember a time being on the U.S. Ski Team that there weren’t two or three people that could have taken the four spots (in each race). We always had a full quota.”

With Vonn’s retirement following that of Miller and Julia Mancuso in recent years, and with Ligety nearing the end of his career, it marks the end of a golden generation for the U.S. team.

Vonn, Miller, Mancuso and Ligety won a combined 40 medals at major championships — 15 at the Olympics and 25 at the worlds — stretching back to 2002.

“We had a solid group of people that were consistently winning or getting on the podium, making world championship and Olympic medals,” Vonn said. “And now we’re gone.”

The only U.S. skier who has won a race this season is Mikaela Shiffrin, who is breaking record after record and is on course for a third straight overall World Cup title.

“That will kind of make us look like we’re a top nation but we don’t have as much depth behind her as we would like to have,” said Tiger Shaw, the president of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “So that’s our mission now.”

Three years ago, the U.S. federation undertook a deep-dive, “Moneyball”-type analysis to study all of the world’s top ski teams. The idea behind “Project 2026,” aimed for a revival by the 2026 Olympics, was to draw a graph depicting what the best skiers were doing when they were at the age of 21, 22 — or younger — and to develop team qualifying criteria based on those results.

“Part of that is a message to everyone in the United States, ‘Look, to be one of the best in the world, here are the waypoints. You need to be at these levels,’” Shaw said. “So if you get underneath this curve you’re on the team automatically. It doesn’t mean we don’t add people by discretion and make exceptions for injury but we needed to send a message to Americans that it is damn tough to become one of the better racers in the world.”

The results so far, though, have been smaller World Cup teams because the criteria to qualify became so demanding.

Veteran slalom specialist Dave Chodounsky left the team after last season when he learned that he would have had to pay his own travel expenses.

“It’s sad,” Ligety told The Associated Press. “Last year we had Nolan Kasper scoring points and Mark Engel and Dave Chodounsky and AJ Giniss. We have guys that can ski elite slalom, it’s just that the criteria changed this year in a way that none of those guys could have the opportunity within the team.

“Even if the criteria didn’t change they had an opportunity for skiing within the team but paying. How can Daver, who is the same age as I am, justify that?” added the 34-year-old Ligety, who plans to ski for at least one more season. “Trying to start a family and all that stuff. That’s a hard reality.”

U.S. skiers have struggled with funding issues for years but Shaw says the problem is almost solved, with the cost of competing on the C and D teams down to $8,000 annually and the fee for the development team $10,000.

“The goal is to get it down so the A, B and C teams have no costs at all,” Shaw said. “It may take another one or two years but we’re in a good place financially now.”

The overall travel costs for all of the federation’s 186 athletes across all sports — Alpine skiing, freestyle, snowboarding, etc. — is about $5 million annually, according to Shaw. The federation’s overall budget is $34-36 million — 30 percent of which is covered by donors.

Bryce Bennett, a 21-year-old downhiller from Squaw Valley, Calif., who has had three top-five World Cup results this season, was supposed to pay $10,000 in travel fees this season but got that covered by a B team fundraiser.

“There’s a lot of complaining. But our program is good,” Bennett said. “Our American downhiller crew is a good group of guys and a good coaching staff. We get what we need and we make it happen. I’m sure it’s not ideal but is it ever going to be ideal? We’re not bumming it.”

Bennett said the bigger problem is the laser-like focus on the Olympics.

“We’re very focused on the medals,” he said. “But it’s a huge process behind winning those medals. There’s a lot of details involved — the equipment, your tactics, your technical ability. Strength and conditioning, mentally. And I think those get overlooked and overshadowed by the medals. You got to focus on the process and spend a lot of time on that process and not on the external result.

“If you’re not competitive on the World Cup there’s no chance you’re going to be competitive at world championships or Olympics,” Bennett added. “You can’t come in once in a while, do a World Cup and show up at a big event and expect to do well. No chance.”

The U.S. has two more rising speed skiers in Jared Goldberg and Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who was second after the downhill portion of the combined at the worlds. The downhill team is captained by 36-year-old Steven Nyman, a three-time World Cup winner, and 30-year-old Travis Ganong, the last U.S. man to win a World Cup race, a downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, more than two years ago.

When Miller was racing and breaking into the speed events, Daron Rahlves was already winning downhills and they fed off each other’s success.

“It’s hard to say how much feeding off it was but we definitely had a team that was strong,” Miller told the AP. “The confidence goes up. Ski racing has a lot to do with confidence.

“We have had always had talented skiers in the U.S. It’s just a matter of if they can find that confidence and get into the mode of winning and that was something that I was kind of the catalyst for,” Miller added. “You had to think of going into races to win, not just to try to compete. If you’re just going in to compete you end up fifth and 10th and 20th. That’s a different mindset.”

The women’s speed team is also well stocked — but currently depleted by injuries to Laurenne Ross, Breezy Johnson, Jacqueline Wiles and Alice McKennis.

Alice Merryweather, the 2017 world junior champion, was the only other American in Sunday’s downhill besides Vonn. She finished 22nd.

“I think Alice is a very good skier and she has the potential to be on the podium,” Vonn said. “I’m hoping that she can punch in there and be the future of our speed team, and hopefully get some other girls in there as well.”

The tech teams — beyond Shiffrin — are where the real problems lie. But there has been progress.

Dartmouth student Nina O’Brien, for instance, scored her first World Cup points in both slalom and giant slalom this season, and Paula Moltzan finished in the top 20 four times in slalom.

In GS, Tommy Ford recorded three top-six finishes in December and January.

Then there’s 21-year-old River Radamus, who won three gold medals at the 2016 Youth Olympics and two silvers at the junior worlds.

With an eye on the future, longtime men’s head coach Sasha Rearick was reappointed to take over the development program at the end of last season.

Still, there’s a general feeling that some talent has been lost because of the funding issues in recent years.

“I know from talking to people on the Park City ski team, their goal is not to make the U.S. Ski Team; the goal is to get a college scholarship now,” said Ligety, who is from Park City. “So the whole goal system of everybody in the U.S. has changed to, ’I want to be an elite ski racer racing World Cup but my pathway there is through college and get good enough that I’m skipping all these little steps to race World Cup and not having to pay. … That whole system has killed our talent pool.”

So will there ever again be a generation like the one with Vonn, Miller, Mancuso and Ligety?

“You never know. Next year you could have somebody else. I was ranked 300th in the world and then the next year I was top 30,” said Ligety, who won his first Olympic gold medal when he was 21. “Guys will pop out in the U.S. that I’ve never heard of.

“Bode, nobody ever heard of him up until the day he got (11th) place in his first World Cup. Especially on the men’s side, there can be some kid that goes through some physical maturity and figures out a couple things in his skiing and all of a sudden he’s in there on the World Cup. That happened to both Bode and I.”

The wait starts now.

What’s next for Vonn? ‘It’s all about pushing myself’

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ARE, Sweden (AP) — Actor. Businesswoman. Mom. All three?

Life after skiing is already taking shape for Lindsey Vonn and she only completed her skiing career a day ago.

“Next goal, take on the world,” Vonn said, perhaps jokingly — but who’d put it past her? — when discussing what the future holds for her when she retires after the world championships in Sweden.

One thing’s for sure: She’s unlikely to be slipping out of the limelight.

“I’m a driven person,” said Vonn, who has 1.6 million Instagram followers and, at the height of her career in 2013, was worth $3 million, according to Forbes. “I’m not going to be sitting on the couch, twiddling my thumbs. That would be boring. It’s all about pushing myself.”

Just like it was all or nothing in her record-setting skiing career— her current shiner around her right eye and the highlight reel of crashes are testament to that — Vonn intends to immerse herself in lots of things once she puts away her racing suit.

She said she’ll be setting up her own business, which involves a “new project” that she is keeping under wraps for the moment. Attending a four-day course at Harvard Business School last year was an early signal of her post-skiing intentions.

“I hope one day,” Vonn said, “they say, ‘OK, she was a skier a long time ago, and now she’s a successful businesswoman.’”

That would be a big deal for Vonn, who has previously referred to being “self-conscious about my level of education,” having never been to college. Her family moved from Minnesota to Vail, Colorado, when she was 12 to advance her skiing career, and she took online courses to complete her high school education.

Vonn would do well to take some advice from American teammate Ted Ligety, who is also 34 and who founded his ski accessories company , Shred, in 2006.

“It’s a whole other world,” Ligety told The Associated Press. “It’s never easy … You can’t do it yourself. You got to have some help along the way and have some people that know better and that can help you carry out a vision as well.”

Vonn also is looking to get into the world of movies, both in front of the camera and behind it as an executive producer.

She has already been an extra on one of her favorite shows, “Law & Order,” and launched in December her own YouTube channel , LVTV, where she provides weekly lifestyle content on things like health, fitness and cooking.

It’s therefore no surprise that being a mother is not immediately on her agenda, but she definitely plans to have kids somewhere down the line. If her boyfriend, Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, wasn’t already aware of that, he is now.

In her news conference Tuesday after the super-G race at the worlds, Vonn set up her cell phone on the table in front of her to ensure Subban could listen in live.

“Wait, I’ve got to make sure my boyfriend is here for this,” Vonn said, repositioning her phone. “Yes, of course, I’d love to have children.

“I’m 34, so I can’t wait too long,” she added before looking straight down the phone. “You know what I’m saying.”

She said one of the reasons she is calling an end to her sports career now is so she doesn’t damage her body even more, to the extent that she wouldn’t be able to go skiing with her own children.

She’ll be making a clean break from the sport, too, after the downhill on Sunday. Not even coaching.

“I want to be still here, racing,” Vonn said, “I accept that I can’t, but I still want to be here. If I was going to be involved in skiing at least for the next few years, I think that would just make me even more sad. I need a break. Maybe after time, when I’m older, maybe then I can make my way back.”

Throw in her foundation and her slew of well-known sponsors that she plans to continue representing and Vonn won’t have a problem keeping herself occupied.

Top of the to-do list when she returns to the United States next week will be to have a seventh, and hopefully final, operation on her knee after tearing her lateral collateral ligament in November. During rehab, Vonn will have time to figure out exactly how to attack the next stage in her life.

“My head is still good,” she said. “That’s all I need at this point.”