Reuters/Pyeongchang, South Korea
The most successful woman skier in World Cup history, American Lindsey Vonn says she wants to end her Olympic career on a high when she gets her fourth Games underway next week.
The 33-year-old says she intends to compete on the World Cup circuit for one more year as she targets the record number of race wins, in either gender, of 86 set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.
Vonn’s downhill victory in Garmisch on Sunday took her to 81 career World Cup race wins.
Yet when it comes to the Olympics, Vonn has a solitary gold medal, in her favoured downhill, from Vancouver eight years ago.
Injury robbed her of a chance to defend her title in Sochi in 2014 and she is determined to make up for that.
“I want to end on a high note,” she told a press conference yesterday.
“I really want to put an exclamation point on my career. It took me until my third Olympics how to figure out how to deal with the pressure,” said Vonn who made her Olympic debut as a 17-year-old, racing in the combined event, at Salt Lake in 2002.
Vonn says she has slowly learnt how to handle the pressure and high expectations that arrive with every Olympics.
“I think in my second Olympics in Turin, I put more pressure on myself than anyone put on me. I am just going to lay it all out there,” she said.
Vonn has had her share of injuries in her career, including the knee operation that kept her out of Sochi but she says she is in good shape now — even if she has to incorporate maintenance work into her regular training.
“When I warm up in the morning, I need to warm up my knee first, for 15 minutes. Then I have to bike, I have to stretch, I have to do all these extra steps that I didn’t have to do before,” she said.
“In 2010 I was a much healthier athlete but in 2018 I am a much stronger athlete. Not just physically but also mentally. I have overcome a lot. I know what I am capable of and I can handle myself better than I did,” she said.
The speed specialist, who will not compete in Giant Slalom, wants to ensure that she takes full advantage of her fourth Games.
“This is probably my last Olympics, I am soaking in every moment, I am still in awe of being able to represent my country,” she said.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs since Vancouver but I feel like I am coming into these Olympics on a hot streak, I am skiing exceptionally well and I have a lot of confidence”.
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