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Vonn’s goals stretch beyond Vancouver Games

U.S. ski racer Lindsey Vonn smiles during a press conference in Soelden, Austria, Oct. 22, 2009. The Alpine Ski World Cup season will be openend in Soelden on Oct. 24/25 2009. (AP Photo/Keystone/Alessandro Della Bella)
AP | KEYSTONE

SOELDEN, Austria – Winning a medal at the Vancouver Olympics is not the only goal for Lindsey Vonn this season. She also has three World Cup titles she wants to defend – the overall crown and smaller crystal globes in downhill and super-G.

“Definitely my biggest goal for the season is to try to win an Olympic medal, but I also would like to defend my overall title and super-G title and downhill title,” Vonn said Thursday, two days before the World Cup season begins with a giant slalom on the Rettenbach glacier.

“Those are all important things for me. I’m going to take every race one day at a time and try to do the best I can every day, and the same goes for the Olympics. It’s the same thing, just a different event. I’m just going to work hard and hopefully things go well.”

Giant slalom is the only event in which Vonn has not posted a podium result – with her best finish fourth in Aspen last season. She’s hoping a switch in ski brands – from Rossignol to Head – and better preparation could change that.

“I’ve trained a lot in the last few weeks and I’m hoping I get on the podium at least once this year,” she said.

Vonn’s training has taken a back seat to her extracurricular activities lately. She was on the move almost constantly over the summer.

“I can’t even tell you how many more interviews I’ve done this summer than even last year,” she said. “Essentially from New Zealand (for August training camp) on, every single day has been completely booked with something. Especially the last two weeks between Chile and this camp in Austria. I was in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, just wracking up the frequent flier miles.

“It’s been a little bit intense, but I want to get all the interviews out of the way so I don’t have to do them during the Olympics,” she said, adding that she could count “on one hand” her free days in the offseason.

The toughest part of the switch in ski brands has been settling on a pair of slalom boards.

“There’s so many different models, and actually all of them are working really well, which is a good problem to have,” she said. “I pretty much have my race skis picked out in GS, super-G and downhill, and now it’s just the process of narrowing down the skis that I want for slalom.”

After Soelden, the next stop on the circuit is a slalom race in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 14.

Vonn won her second consecutive overall title last season by a large margin over her good friend Maria Riesch, with Anja Paerson third. Vonn is expecting the German and the Swede to be her top challengers again.

“I know they’re going to be skiing well no matter what, so my job is just to try to do the best job I can,” Vonn said. “I tried to get as strong as I could this summer and my work is cut out for me. Maria is going to be skiing strong in all disciplines like she always is, and so is Anja.”

Nicole Hosp of Austria, the 2007 overall winner, could also challenge Vonn this year.

Riesch won gold in slalom at last season’s world championships and says she trained harder for the speed events this season. Still, that doesn’t guarantee anything against Vonn, who was far and above everyone else in downhill and super-G last season.

“If I knew it, I would do it,” Riesch said of beating Vonn. “There is no special thing. Everything must work together. You have to be in a strong performance the whole winter to win the overall.”

After last season ended, Vonn and Riesch took a vacation together in Mexico.

“We were celebrating the end of the season because we had big successes,” Riesch said. “It was just one week and we used it to chill and relax.”

Paerson, the 2004 and ’05 overall winner, just took it easy after struggling with a knee problem at the end of last season.

“I’m in great shape now,” she said. “I rested in April and May and then I trained real hard.”


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