Can anyone beat Lindsey Vonn at the Olympics?
I’ve enjoyed my weekend in the Italian mountains covering the women’s World Cup skiing. Chic Cortina d’Ampezzo is a beautiful place and the weather has been mild (even if I’ve still been slipping and sliding on the icy pavements).
But the best bit is that I was able to pre-prepare parts of my stories before the races began, such was everybody’s confidence that America’s Lindsey Vonn would win the Super-G and downhill.
The 25-year-old World Cup champion and current leader duly triumphed in both, further solidifying expectations she will easily walk away with the titles at next month’s Vancouver Winter Olympics.
She has won all five downhills this season and eight races in all. Is there any hope for the rest in Canada?
All you can say is that the Olympics are different. One-off races on courses the skiers are not always used to.
The extra pressure of those famous five rings also comes into the equation. Vonn has never won an Olympic medal and veterans will tell you the first gold is always the hardest.
Competing in North America means Vonn will have more fans cheering her on than she does in Europe where the World Cup is focused but more support also brings more expectation.
So maybe there is a chance that good friend Maria Riesch of Germany can finally get the better of Vonn.
Ah, but I forgot to mention something.
Vonn will be wearing a new hi-tech suit at the Games which reduces drag and she hopes it could knock hundredths of a second off her times….
PHOTO: Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. poses on the podium after winning the women’s World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo January 23, 2010. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito