Lindsey Vonn apologizes after destroying ski with hammer after crash
LA TUILE, Italy — Even after apologizing for a gaffe on social media, Lindsey Vonn still has work to do to repair some fallout with her ski supplier.
A representative at Head, where she has a 10-year contract, did not take it lightly that Vonn posted a video of an angry outburst in which she destroyed her bindings with a hammer following a downhill where one ski detached.
"It’s a serious thing," Head women’s racing director Christian Greber told The Associated Press on Saturday before another downhill in which Vonn finished second. "We as a supporter are always trying to do our best to support and help, especially the top athletes, as good as we can. So it was not nice yesterday.
"For sure it will reach our (managers) and they will have a couple of discussions about several things," added Greber, a former World Cup racer from Austria. "We’ll see."
Along with Red Bull and Under Armour, Head is one of Vonn’s top sponsors.
At 31 and this stage in her career, Vonn said she does not want to put the relationship at risk.
"I have a 10-year contract with Head for a reason," she said. "I believe in them and I think they’re an amazing company. I’ve had a lot of success with Head and I think they’re the best. So unless they don’t want to continue the relationship — which is not the case — then I don’t even want to think about skiing on something else."
After erasing the post from her Facebook page, Vonn spent the night drafting an apology with her Los Angeles-based agent and called Johan Eliasch, chairman and chief executive of the Head group.
"This was a huge mistake born out of the frustrating race I had today and was in no way, shape or form a reflection on the performance of the Head race team and the Head skis and bindings which I race on and which have been instrumental in my success," Vonn said in a statement. "In fact, thank goodness the binding released as it should, preventing a possible injury.
As Vonn went wide on a turn, she put all her weight on her left inside ski and the right ski detached as it hit a bump. Vonn fell and slid down the course on her hip but escaped injury except some minor bruising.
Immediately afterwards, Vonn blamed the fall on an equipment failure.
By Saturday she had changed her tune.
"I hit those bumps and my ski was just bouncing. It’s really hard to say, `Should it have come off? Should it not have come off?’ I can’t really say one way or another but the fact is it did come off and I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault."
Vonn uses men’s skis and already tightens her bindings to a higher level than most female racers. If she tightens the bindings too much, though, the skis might not pop off in a fall, which would be extremely dangerous.
"It’s not an exact science," she said. "It’s downhill skiing and there’s bumps and there’s risks and I understand that."
For Head racing director Rainer Salzgeber, there was no debate.
"It’s a possibility that you lose the ski in that position," he told The AP from Austria. "It happens. End of story."
Vonn raced on Rossignol skis before switching to Head in 2009 shortly before the Vancouver Olympics, where she won gold in downhill.
But she needs to be careful since her Swiss rival for the overall title, Lara Gut, began racing for Head this season.
Salzgeber appeared more concerned about the damage that Vonn’s post had on the supplier’s workers.
"We have a good team and I care about the team, not just the racers," he said.
For Vonn, it’s been a lesson on the dangers of social media.
"That’s the biggest reason I’m disappointed in myself is that I should know better and I do know better and I just let my emotions get the best of me and I didn’t think it through," Vonn said. "Social media is a great platform if it’s used correctly and in that case it was not used correctly and I apologize for that and I will not make that mistake again."
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) February 19, 2016