Fountains of Wayne, your song's OK, but the subject of your affection is wrong; it should be Lindsey Vonn that's got it goin' on.
I’m impressed with how Lindsey Vonn has responded to both praise and injury—by grinning and bearing it, and most importantly winning.
She came to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with the intentions of becoming one of the most dominant female skiers ever.
I mean, I know little about her background, but her husband, Thomas Vonn, a former Olympic skier himself, is Vonn’s coach, and has been known to push her hard when she needs an extra boost of motivation.
She’s graced many magazines before setting foot in Whistler and other areas in the Canadian province of British Columbia, including a provocative pose on the cover of Sports Illustrated and also featured in SI ’s swimsuit issue , with not much more than a winter hat and a skimpy bikini.
Besides that hype, Vonn, like other Olympians, has had to deal with the less-than-auspicious weather in Vancouver, with warmer temperatures than expected there since last week’s opening ceremonies.
The not-so-great climate led to the shutdown of ski slopes for a few days to allow Olympic ground crews to cover areas in the mountains with man-made and natural snow (as well to re-ice skating rinks that have been less than par for speedskaters).
On top of that, Vonn practiced for her downhill ski events and suffered a painful bruised shin in the process before her anticipated debut.
Spectators and speculators wondered if she would have to bow out of one or all of the races she had qualified for, so that she could recuperate and let other hopefuls (among them, fellow American and "rival" Julia Mancuso) in the field vie for medals instead of her.
Vonn’s shin continued to hurt her in trial runs earlier this week, as she pushed forward with uncertain, alternating recorded times.
She complained rightfully that the times were only an indicator of bad slope conditions and pain, yet she and her husband Thomas gave no insight as to whether she would remain in the race.
Yet early on Wednesday, February 17, 2010, starting six positions after Mancuso’s blazingly fast mark of 1:44.75, Vonn, as the No. 16 skier, listened to her husband's words of encouragement, put her head down and jumped out of the gates like a bat out of hell, swooping past each of the four interval times with reckless yet measured abandon.
With this focused, determined speed, the 25-year-old woman representing Vail, Colorado, went past the finish line faster than Mancuso and the other 45 women to claim gold in women’s downhill at 1 minute, 44 seconds and 19 hundredths of a second.
It was remarkable how Vonn was able to not only handle the pressure of being a media darling and sex symbol (she threw that SI Cover Jinx into the garbage disposal!), but also to fight through the high expectations and anxiety of performing while hurt. Her toughness impressed me way more than her looks.
Lindsey Vonn winning the gold medal despite the odds was the ultimate sign of a true champion, Olympian and American.