Vail Loves Vonn: The Colorado Resort Celebrates World Champion Lindsey Vonn with a Massive Pep Rally

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 22, 2009 1:12 pm

The girl just can’t help it. Not only is she beautiful, smart and extremely gracious, World Champion ski racer Lindsey Vonn rips like no other. And so, she’s very much loved, especially by the folks at Vail who threw her a pep rally to celebrate the pending start of the 2010 World Cup season. (Vail Resorts also recently signed Vonn to a four-year contract to represent them.) Even though the first World Cup race is still two months away, hundreds of fans crowded Vail Square Friday to cheer the two-time World Cup Overall Champion.

“I grew up here in Vail and I’m so happy to be back,” said the U.S. Ski Team star, who learned the ropes through the Vail Ski and Snowboard Club’s alpine program before marking her place on the World Cup circuit. (And by mark, we mean a serious, permanent historical tattoo.) “It’s incredible to see so many people out celebrating ski racing in August. It feels like a bib draw in Europe, only it’s not cold or snowing,” Vonn joked.

Vonn was joined on the Vail stage by fellow legends former U.S. Ski Team athletes Tamara McKinney, Cindy Nelson and Christin Cooper. Current teammate and Vail local Sarah Schleper was also on hand, as was 12-time Paralympic gold medalist and recent U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductee Sarah Will. “We’ve all been amazed at what Lindsey is able to do going 70 mph on skis,” said McKinney.

Those are big words from a true champion, as prior to Vonn’s record-breaking 2009 season, McKinney topped the charts with 19 World Cup wins. “It’s what she does for the ski racing community that makes her so special,” continued McKinney. “She’s an inspiration and she’s the first person to thank all the people that helped her along the way. That includes you, Vail.”

After words from Canadian World Cup legend Todd Brooker, Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Director (and former U.S. Ski Team coach) Aldo Radamus, the original U.S. Ski Team coach Bob Beattie and McKinney, Vonn was saluted by one of her biggest fans, 10-year-old Vail racer Nellie Talbot. “I’m really happy that you’re moving back to Vail and I’m looking forward to seeing you on the mountain and getting to know you better,” Talbot said. “And as everyone probably knows, you’re a person I look up to so hopefully I can be as good as you someday, and follow in your tracks.”

In her usual humble way, Vonn hugged her young fan and entertained the jubilant crowd with stories of growing up on the local slopes. “I remember hiking Mushroom Bowl and wondering why we had to hike when there were perfectly good lifts to use. At the time I hated my coach, but the epic powder we found changed that in a hurry,” laughed Vonn. “I also remember ducking out of a slip run for a quick cup of hot cocoa and getting a pretty big scolding for that one. It made me a better person. I definitely never skipped a slip run after that.”

Vonn’s new and improved self went on to win double gold at last seasons World Championships in Val d’Isere, which is something the athlete would like to repeat in Whistler at the 2010 Olympic Games. “If I continue to work hard and stay focused, I know that I can win,” said Vonn. “But for me, it’s not a matter of winning multiple medals at the Olympics. Even if I win just one bronze, I’ll be happy. I’ve never won an Olympic medal and the reason I started ski racing was to be on the podium at the Olympics. That’s the goal.”

If Vonn’s winning ways and extraordinary trajectory as a ski racer are any indication, that goal seems like a clear reality more and more every day. 



photos: USSA/Doug Haney