Whirlwind week awaits Lindsey Vonn | AspenTimes.com

Whirlwind week awaits Lindsey Vonn

Rachel Cohen
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
U.S. skiers Lindsey Vonn, left, winner of the 2007-08 overall World Cup title, and Ted Ligety, men's World Cup giant slalom champion, pose with their trophies in New York, Tuesday. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

NEW YORK ” Lindsey Vonn had visions of airport security dropping her crystal globe. Or of it cracking as it slid across the roller wheels of the X-ray.

This fragile trophy represented her greatest achievement as a skier. And now as she returned to the U.S. as the first American woman in 25 years to win an overall World Cup title, a stranger wanted to remove it from its case to send it through a machine.

“There’s nothing in it, look,” she pleaded, noting the transparent glass.

Finally, Vonn recalled, “They figured out who I was, and then they were like, ‘Oh, I guess it’s OK now.'”

Well, she still had to X-ray the globe, but they let her keep it wrapped in the towels and sweat shirts protecting it in the case. (No, the trophy doesn’t come with its own padding, for some reason.) And she had to sign posters for everybody in security, of which she ran out.

The award will have to go through security a few more times. After a day of media interviews, Vonn was scheduled to fly to Maine on Wednesday for the U.S championships. After that, the trophy will at last head home with her.

She won’t get to stay with it, though. Next, Vonn flies back to Europe to test out the world championships course in France on March 31-April 1.

When it’s all over, Vonn vowed, “I’m staying in my bedroom for, like, five days.”

She needs to get caught up on “Lost,” and she figures she’s about two seasons behind on “The Office.”

The former Lindsey Kildow married ex-skier Thomas Vonn in September. The couple has yet to go on their honeymoon, and she’s not sure she wants to board another plane anytime soon. A friend is getting married in Jamaica in May, so “maybe I’ll just have a honeymoon at someone else’s wedding,” Vonn said, only half-joking.

Perhaps they’ll arrive a week early to honeymoon with a minimal amount of travel.

“A beach is a beach, I guess,” Vonn said. “Margaritas are the same everywhere.”

Vonn sounded jealous of U.S. teammate Ted Ligety, the World Cup giant slalom champion, who must return home for surgery on his injured thumb.

“I almost did my thumb so I could go home,” Ligety deadpanned.

“My knee, maybe it’s hurting, I don’t know,” Vonn responded.

Her knee injury cut short her season last year. In 2006, she was a medal favorite coming into the Olympics, but during a training run there, Vonn crashed in frightening fashion. When she hit the snow, she thought she had broken her back and her career was over.

Vonn was airlifted to a hospital; within two days, she was competing despite the pain in her back. But she left Turin without a medal.

Glory finally came in the World Cup this year. Vonn and Bode Miller became the first Americans to sweep the overall titles since 1983. They each also won crowns in individual events, to go along with Ligety’s championship.

The 23-year-old Vonn used to panic if she ever struggled in a race. Last year, even a fourth-place finish had her feeling as though the world was coming to an end.

“I remember I was just freaking out,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. It seemed like everything was crashing in on me.”

Imagine how the old Lindsey would have reacted to her 16th-place result in a World Cup super-G event last month, her worst showing in the discipline in years. Instead, she was calm.

The reality for American athletes in many Olympic sports is that their countrymen don’t pay much attention in the four years between games. Come 2010 in Vancouver, she’ll still be the woman who crashed to a lot of viewers.

“Hopefully now along with my crash, they’ll remember that I won an overall title and won’t be just that crash in Torino,” Vonn said. “But if they remember me, that’s a positive in itself.”


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