By Armand Whyte, OSL
Lindsey Vonn was born on October 18, 1984 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
She started skiing on Buck Hill, Minnesota before moving with her family to Vail, Colorado.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vonn became the first American woman to win a downhill gold.
She is awaiting surgery after tearing ligaments in her right knee and breaking a bone after a crash in Austria.
LINDSEY VONN CRASH. Lindsey Vonn is awaiting surgery after a serious crash while skiing in the World Champonships in Austria. She should recover in time to compete in the 2014 Olymics in Sochi, Russia, but she will be sidelined for up to eight months.
Lindsey Vonn was born on October 18, 1984 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She started skiing on Buck Hill, Minnesota before moving with her family to Vail, Colorado.
Lindsey Vonn is the best alpine skier America has ever produced. No one in American skiing history can match Vonn's three consecutive World Championships wins (2008, 09, and 10). At the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February 2010, Lindsey Vonn became the first American woman to win a gold medal in downhill skiing.
Vonn is a media darling and sponsor's snow dream. She wins races, she's a hottie, the camera loves her, and she's always aware of the bottom line. Vonn knows that skiing is not only a sport but big business. She always goes the extra mile to keep the bean counters and image gurus happy.
Lindsey Vonn does a Tebow... and no, she is not dating Tim ... well, maybe she isn't
Lindsey Vonn. [More sports stars]
Lindsey Vonn in the sauna. [More sports stars]
If Lindsey were in a bigger sport than alpine skiing, she'd be making mega bucks by now. Her image is cleaner than Tiger Woods before he stumbled upon his love of waitresses and porn stars.
Vonn is squeaky clean, the girl next door, uncontroversial, midwestern. And she's the best in the world at hurtling down a mountain with skis on her feet. What's not to like about her?
We could be extremely petty and say we don't like her nasal whine, which reminds us of Sarah Palin. But it's not Vonn's fault. She was born in St Paul, Minnesota, where they all talk like that.
We might argue that in a sport built on speed and taking calculated risks, an edgier image wouldn't harm. But by now, after countless missteps by Bode Miller, skiing is bored with rebellion. It wants athletes who behave and know their place in the media and sponsorship circus.
No problem. Vonn seems utterly content to be a media sweetheart and sponsor's lapdog. Even if she broke her leg in a race, she'd hobble over to the sponsor's tent to tell us about the wonderful people and products at Under Armour, Red Bull, Uvex, Alka Seltzer, and Head.
Guys in suits running the U.S. Ski Team love Vonn so much, they say:
We're wondering what we did to deserve her.
US Ski Team press aide Doug Haney wincingly put like this:
To me, [her] grace is the true definition of a World Champion.
Vonn is aware that she has a short shelf life as a world class skier. If she is going to live well in the future, she has to nurture a marketable image that can make a smooth switch from the ski slope to the television studio.
If she is ever spotted frollicking topless in a Swiss hottub (something her teammate Linda Mancuso might think of doing), we know the tabloids will love it, but out the window will go her media career, her more conservative sponsors, and her millions, well thousands, of midwestern, middle-of-the road fans.
Pleasing people is not as easy as it looks. According to AP writer Howard Fendrich:
Vonn is supposed to win medals, plural, not merely one. Supposed to win golds, not any old color. Supposed to sell products for the companies whose logos adorn her hats, her jackets, her skis....
is supposed to be the camera-ready face of her sport, counted on to boost its popularity in the United States, a country that seemingly truly cares about skiing every, oh, four years or so.
Vonn takes the pressure and exptectations in her stride:
I don't think too much about the expectations and what everyone is thinking that I'm going to do in Vancouver. What's most important for me is just to stay focused on my own goals, and all I can do is my best, Vonn says.
I'm not out there claiming I'm going to win so many medals, she says.
I'm just out there trying to ski fast every day.
By Athina Simonidou