Olympics Notebook: Vancouver 2010
All the pre-Olympic attention in women’s Alpine Skiing has been on American Lindsey Vonn, her form, her posing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, her shin injury, her cheesetherapy, her husband/coach/spokesman Thomas and her ever so hip social networking ability (yes, she tweets her facebook updates). It’s almost as though seven-times world champion Anja Paerson wasn’t here…..
Which suits the 28-year-old Swede just fine. The true Queen of the Slopes, the most successful active women’s skier on the circuit, Paerson doesn’t mind the lack of attention.
Despite her elevated status in the sport, only two non-Swedish journalists bothered to turn up to her pre-Olympics press conference. That was even more surprising given that, as well as being a multiple medal contender, Paerson, who has been on the World Cup tour for 12 years, also happens to be one of the smartest, most articulate athlete on the circuit and is frequently outspoken on issues of concern to her and her fellow skiers.
I was fortunate enough to witness a lot of Paerson’s successes in the mid noughties –- some key wins in her two overall World Cup titles in 2004 and 2005, the two golds in the world championships at Bormio in 2005 and her Olympic gold in slalom a year later at the Turin Games. In among those many highlights (she is the only woman to have won gold in every world championship event) there have been times when she has looked and sounded bored or frustrated with skiing. There has been the feeling that she needed to be angry to perform well.
Lindsey Vonn has re-connected with her huge online following — which I, for one, am determined to call her Digital Vonn-tourage — and put a brief dalliance with old media behind her.
Vonn, the 25-year-old Alpine skiing world champion and Face of the Games, turned to a major U.S. TV network and a traditional IOC press conference to break the news on Wednesday that she had a badly bruised shin that might keep her out of the Olympics.