Lindsey Vonn returned to world cup competition this season after almost two years away. And she’s ending the season having earned 8 more World Cup victories, a sixth world championship medal, and two more crystal globes to her collection. She now has 19—four large globes for the overall title and 15 smaller globes for overall wins in downhill, super-g, and combined.
So where does Vonn stash all this lead crystal, made by Bavarian glassblower, JOSKA Kristall?
Some of her globes are still in their hard-shell cases. But when Vonn returns to her home in Vail this spring, she will put all 19 into a new trophy cabinet that she had built over her fireplace.
“There’s place for 23 [crystal globes], so if I win more than that, I’ll have to build a new one,” she said by phone from Meribel, France, host to World Cup Finals this season. “I think that will suffice.”
Why will 23 suffice?
That’s just the way the display lights fit above her fireplace, she said. She could either commission a case for 17 or 23.
“I said 23, make it bigger.” She then added that the trophy case can be made even larger if needed.
With 19 overall titles, Vonn tied Ingemar Stenmark for the most won by one athlete. But until yesterday, she did not know that she was close to the alpine legend’s record. When she realized what would happen if she won the overall super-g title (in a tight race with Austrian Anna Fenninger), Vonn realized that it would be “a pretty amazing accomplishment to equal his record.”
“Ingemar is an amazing legend in our sport, someone I’ve always idolized,” she said. “He seems like someone who’s not attainable, all of his records are just not attainable. To be able to be at the same level as he is, in at least one of his many categories that he has the record, is pretty incredible.”
But asked if she is shooting for his other major record — 86 World Cup wins — Vonn demurred. To win 19 more World Cup races (she already has 67 wins), Vonn would need to win seven more next year, seven the year after, and six in the 2018 Olympic year (she has stated that she will compete at least through the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea).
Vonn, now age 30, won eight World Cups this year. The most she has ever won in one season is 12 (during winter 2011/2012), and she has won at least six every year since 2007/2008 (excluding 2014, which she sat out while recovering from two knee surgeries).
“Mathematically, it’s definitely possible,” she said. “But that’s a lot easier said than done.”
Vonn is trying to keep record-breaking out of her goal setting. She admitted that thinking about breaking Annemarie Moser-Proell’s record of 62 World Cup wins (the most of any woman until Vonn broke it in January) was one of her “faults.” She became aware of Moser-Proell’s record when she hit 55 wins in 2013 — shortly before her devastating crash at the 2013 world championships. (Incidentally, Moser-Proell only won 16 overall World Cup titles.)
“Going forward, I need to not think about those things and just focus on the skiing,” she said. “It always seems to bring good things.”
Like lots of glittery crystal to place over the fireplace.
“I’m hoping that each year is going to be a breakthrough year in some aspect of my skiing,” the Olympic slalom gold medalist said recently. “It just keeps coming at me.”
It was a real honor to interview Billy Mills. He spoke at length about his victory at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games in the 10,000 and the — often sad — journey that led to it.
In the first run of giant slalom at the Sochi Olympics, Ted Ligety put a 0.93 gap on the field. That would be a large margin for an entire, two-run race, let alone one run. Since he began focusing on his GS in 2006, Ligety has perfected a style that makes him faster—much faster—than his competitors. In a course replay, with Ligety’s run and Bank’s run superimposed, you could see how the 29-year-old Utahan generates speed out of each turn, almost jetting into the next turn, much like a good slalom skier.
After the first run of the 2014 Olympic GS, I asked Bode what Ted does to generate such huge gaps in GS. Here’s his reply, edited for clarity.
Bode: “Ted gets more shape [to his turn] above the gate, some pressure built above the fall-line so he’s pushing down into the fall line a little bit.
“In general, he carries speed from turn to turn better. Because he’s going deeper, his turn is actually longer. Right now, if you watch the top guys, you’ll see almost a flat spot between their turns. It’s easy to see on the first 15 gates. They make a turn, then the pressure is all finished, the turn is finished. There’s a flat spot. Then they drop in and make another turn and then there’s another flat spot. Each turn is starting from scratch. The reason is because the turn shape is shorter than what the course demands. It doesn’t really make sense for them to make a longer radius turn.
“But Ted goes so round that his turn is naturally a longer radius so by the time his turn finishes, it’s time to go into the next turn. If it’s not [finished], he just keeps going until it is. He’ll just keep turning until it’s time to link to the next turn. That way, he generates speed from one turn into the next one. The two things work together. He generates more speed and links one turn to the next and because he has so much space [around the gates], he never pinches or gets in trouble because he’s always way far away from the gate.
“I take nothing away from Ted. I think he’s one of the best GS skiers in history. Every one right now is trying to do what Ted is doing because of the equipment, course sets, and all this stuff. He’s so much better at it than anyone else. You run into that. Guys tried to copy me for awhile doing different things. It just doesn’t work.
“If Ted had some competitors who skied alternative styles to his … if you saw a guy like [Alberto] Tomba at his best or Hermann [Maier] at his best or even Michael von Gruenigan, those guys had their own thing going, and they knew exactly how to do it. It would be tough for Ted to compete against somebody who was cutting off that much line on him. I’m one of the few guys who, if I have my set-up correct, I can trim off a bunch of line. He’s going way faster, but you get to the finish line at the same time because you’re going 100 meters shorter distance in a GS course. Right now, he’s just so consistent. He makes no errors. And anybody who’s trying to cut off line just ends up making mistakes and it ends up making a huge gap.”