American skier Lindsey Vonn is happy to mix sport and politics ahead of Olympics
December 8, 2017
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — Lindsey Vonn says she won't stop expressing her political views, though her main goal is regaining her Olympic downhill title.
The ski star told CNN in an interview that aired Thursday she would "absolutely not" visit the White House if the United States Olympic team gets a traditional post-games invitation.
"I was asked my opinion and I gave it," Vonn told reporters Friday at a World Cup race. "I mean, it's not necessarily my place to be sticking my nose in politics, but as an athlete I do have a voice."
Looking ahead to the Feb. 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea, Vonn told CNN she hoped "to represent the people of the United States, not the president." Though Vonn did not mention President Donald Trump by name, the athlete activists she said Friday she admired included Colin Kaepernick. The president has responded to the NFL quarterback by posting confrontational messages on Twitter.
"People like Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe and Colin Kaepernick," Vonn said in the post-race interview zone. "There's definitely been a lot of people that have made their voice heard and made a positive impact."
"I'm not trying to be negative in any way, I'm trying to be positive," said the two-time Olympic medalist whose 77 World Cup race wins leads the women's all-time list. "All those people have made a positive impact and hopefully my message does as well."
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Vonn told CNN she took the Olympics and "what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony" very seriously.
"I want to represent our country well," said the 33-year-old skier, who also has seven career world championships medals, including two gold. "I don't think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that."
President Trump had not posted on Twitter about Vonn's comments by Friday afternoon. When Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry said in September he did not want to visit the White House as the NBA champion, the president tweeted that the invitation was withdrawn.
Pyeongchang will be Vonn's fourth Olympics, though first since she won downhill gold and super-G bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
"If I'm asked my opinion I will most likely give it," she said Friday, "but my focus is on ski racing."
Friday's World Cup combined event was canceled because of thick fog after the opening slalom run.