Lindsey Vonn is not Michael Phelps

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on October 18, 2009 3:08 pm

Yes, the Michael Phelps comparisons have already started.  Phelps was eight for Beijing, in winning a record eight gold medals. 

Now, the camera pans to Vancouver, and there’s Lindsey Vonn.  The defending back-to-back World Cup overall champ excels in all alpine disciplines.  Could Vonn go on a Michael Phelps Olympic streak of perfection?

Vonn told Sunday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “Most people don’t have much interest in the Alpine World Cup, it is the Olympics which really counts and they think I will win five medals which is unrealistic.”

Try next-to-impossible.  It’s not totally unprecedented.  “The black lightning bolt from Kitz,” Austrian great Toni Sailer, swept the 1956 Winter Olympics.  Sailer’s Winter Olympics had three alpine events, Vonn’s will have five.  The quantum technological leap in the equipment, the absurd speeds, the crushing G forces, and it’s no longer Sailer’s ski racing.

And Phelps had eight?  You can’t fall in swimming  While in ski racing, falling can be as frequent as busting in blackjack. The risk of falling is always a necessary gamble for every racer in squeezing out every ounce of speed possible on a steep sheet of ice.  DNF (did not finish) and DSQ (disqualified) show up on a ski racer’s report card almost as frequently as actual times.

No, swimming is not ski racing.  Even with less events, ski racing will never see a sweep at the Winter Olympics.  There’s just too many ancillary variables at work in ski racing.

Vonn has begun the long process of trying to educate and readjust expectations.  This is not the Michael Phelps story, part II.  It’s the Lindsey Vonn story.  “I would be really happy if I managed to win a medal. It has been one of my dreams since I was small.  All that matters for me this season is to be on the podium during the Olympics.”

Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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