World Cup and Olympic skiing champion Lindsey Vonn has done it all. From Crystal Globes, to gold medals, to world records, Vonn has built her professional skiing career on not only being one of the best female competitors in the sport, but by operating on an entirely different level. Not content to rest on her mountain of laurels, Ms. Vonn is seeking a new challenge for the upcoming 2012/2013 Audi FIS World Cup season — she aims to compete against the men.
In a letter to the International Ski Federation (FIS), Lindsey requested that she be allowed to compete in the men’s division for no points during the season opener in Alberta, Canada’s Lake Louise scheduled for November 24th – 25th.
This past World Cup season, the 27-year-old athlete commanded the attention of the entire snow sports industry when she overtook Croatia’s Janica Kostelic for the women’s single season Audi FIS World Cup points record. Shortly thereafter, she made a commendable attempt at surpassing Hermann Maier for the men’s single season points record, but fell short by a mere 20 points. With such a record year under her belt, it’s not so much a question of if she can do it, but rather if she’ll be allowed to prove it.
At this time, the FIS has heard Vonn’s request, but has not held any formal discussions. First, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) must send a formal request to the governing organization for them to consider the scenario. In addition to the unprecedented nature of the request, if Lindsey was to ski with the men on the 24th, it could potentially affect the subsequent woman’s opener slated for the following week. There is an FIS Article that bars any training on a World Cup racecourse during the five days that precede a training day or competition. Essentially, if FIS officials determine that racing with the men would give Vonn an unfair advantage against her fellow female competitors, then she would have to be sidelined during the event’s two downhill races and a super G and forego any potential points. If this were the case, Vonn’s quest to take the downhill and overall titles would be adversely affected.
In an interview with the New York Times, Lindsey stated that she would be unwilling to jeopardize the points if this decision would bar her from competing with the women at Lake Louise.
“There’s two downhill races and a super G, so for the downhill title, for the overall title, those are very important races for me and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize that,” she said.
The FIS has their next meeting scheduled for November 3rd and 4th. Should the USSA send in its formal request, the FIS will discuss the potential scenario of allowing Lindsey Vonn to participate in the men’s November 24th opener at Lake Louise.