Vonn relishes being women’s all-time World Cup wins leader
Caught up in the moment, Lindsey Vonn sprayed sparkling wine everywhere as she celebrated with family, friends and fellow skiers following her record-breaking performance.
The only thing missing from the picture? Boyfriend Tiger Woods’ front tooth.
Hey, she’s always told everyone the sport is full of risks. Vonn knows that all too well, overcoming two knee surgeries to earn World Cup win No. 63 on Monday in Italy. With that, Vonn broke the 35-year-old record held by Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell.
And also with that, her boyfriend got hit in the mouth by a camera in the middle of a scrum and lost his tooth, according to Woods’ agent.
Still, there was plenty to grin about.
”To have Tiger show up for those two hours to watch me win, and go back home, was such a surprise. It meant so much to me,” the 30-year-old Vonn said Tuesday in a teleconference. ”He didn’t have very much luck with the photographer knocking his tooth out. But we both didn’t care – he was there to support me. I was incredibly thankful. It meant a lot. It was a really special day.”
Vonn actually had a chance to chat with Moser-Proell on the phone shortly after the super-G race. Vonn said she offered congratulations.
”It’s mind blowing to me that I now have more wins than she does,” Vonn said. ”I’ve always looked up to her. She’s always been the pinnacle of our sport and this legend that was seemingly untouchable. So this is a huge honor for me.”
Next up, Swedish standout Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 wins.
”Will I get to Stenmark’s record? I have absolutely no idea,” said Vonn, who will compete in a downhill and super-G race this weekend in St. Moritz, Switzerland. ”But that’s not something I’m even remotely thinking about right now.”
There was a time when Stenmark’s record looked almost within Vonn’s reach. But then she tore two ligaments in her right knee during a wipeout at the 2013 world championships. The 2010 Olympic downhill champion tried to get back in time for the Sochi Games last February, but partially tore one of the reconstructed ligaments in a training crash in Copper Mountain, Colorado, three months before the Olympics.
She attempted to get through the injury, only to sprain her MCL racing a downhill in France in December 2013. A month later, she had a second surgery.
”It’s been a really long and hard road,” said Vonn, whose comeback will be the subject of a documentary called ”Lindsey Vonn: The Climb” airing Sunday. ”The last two years have been filled with a lot of ups and definitely a lot of downs. A lot more downs than ups. But I never gave up. I kept working hard. Even after second crash and not being able to race in the Olympics, I never doubted whether I could come back after that.
”It makes these wins this season that much more special. Breaking the record has much more meaning to me now than two years ago, because I’ve been through so much more.”
Vonn will soon head home to Vail, Colorado, to get ready for the world championships in nearby Beaver Creek next month. Had she not been hurt in 2013, the world championships might have been her farewell event. But she decided to extend her career through the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
”Everything happened for a reason. I’ve always believed that,” Vonn said. ”Now my career is going to go another three years and go on to the next Olympics. It means something. We’ll see what it means by the end of my career.”