Vonn hoping to return to form heading into Winter Games

American superstar downhill athlete Lindsey Vonn is excited about her return to major international competition on the world’s biggest stage. She says she feels one hundred percent, despite a lackluster showing recently in Austria.

Vonn says her doubters should put their worries out of their minds. She’s back to the form that helped her win 78 World Cups. The Associated Press caught up with Vonn in Cortina, where she spent the weekend competing in one of the final big races before the Games.

“This snow is perfect. This hill is perfect. I have a lot of confidence here… I don’t need to be careful. I don’t need to worry about the risks. I’m just skiing like normal, and I’m back to normal. This is how I ski when I am skiing well. It’s not like I’m not skiing well.”

The fact that Vonn says she can let it all hang out and not run too careful is good news for her American fans and bad news for her competition. Vonn looked tight and tentative in Austria, though not so in Cortina, where she finished second in the downhill, edged by Italy’s Sofia Goggia.

After the race, that old Vonn enthusiasm was out on display in full force. “I love racing here, and it’s always fun for me to be here. It’s beautiful. It’s hard not to be happy…”

Despite her strong finish and positive attitude, Vonn believes her best skiing is still ahead of her, telling the media after the race that she knows she could have skied better, and that she will need to clean up some of the mistakes she made if she wants to be on the podium in Korea after the scheduled February 21 downhill race.

While Vonn has put on a brave face, there are reasons why some have their doubts. After crashing twice in Alberta, the skier suffered a back injury in Switzerland that had her off her game for some time. She did win one race but sat out the follow-up, because she felt the conditions were not conducive to her competing. To critics who see this as a reason for doubt, Vonn has a very clear message:

“It’s being smart and controlling myself that has always been a problem. I feel like I’ve finally learned my lesson and I’ve been taking it easy to make sure that I can make it to the Olympics. Flipping the switch is something that comes very naturally to me…”

Critics say that remains to be seen, as Vonn has also said she’s “testing” different equipment configurations, which could be a sign of unease. Vonn responds to those criticism by, again, asserting that she’s just being smart about preparation for any conditions.

In the end, the story will be decided out on the slopes, which, Vonn says, is exactly as it should be. She is ready to silence the doubters and regain her reputation as one of the most dangerous downhill runners in women’s skiing.

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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