One of world skiing’s most decorated athletes has admitted one of the biggest frustrations of her career was not being allowed to compete against men.
Lindsey Vonn, who is one of only two women to win four alpine ski World Cup championships overall, said nonetheless that she believed women’s racing had changed in the course of her career.
The American retired earlier this year, 19 years after joining the US ski team in 2000, saying her body could no longer withstand the intense physical effort of ski competition.
She spoke to Euronews after being presented with the Princess of Asturias Award during a ceremony in the Spanish city of Oviedo.
The biggest regret in her career, she said, was being unable to break veteran Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 World Cup event victories — Vonn has 82 wins to her name.
“I have to keep things in perspective. I think you can always look back and say ‘what if, what if?’ but if you keep asking like questions you drive yourself crazy.”
But she added that being unable to persuade the International Ski Federation to let her compete against men was another regret.
“I think that was probably one of the most frustrating things, besides not breaking the [victory] record,” she said.
“I really wanted to compete against the men, because they’re faster than the women and I wanted to improve myself.
“It wasn’t men against women, it was just men were better and I wanted to race against the best.”
Retirement this year was inevitable, however, because her body was telling her it was enough.
She said the future for female skiers was bright and labelled fellow American Mikaela Shiffrin as most likely to exceed even her 82 race victories.
“The only thing she needs to think about now is just staying healthy. And that was my problem, during my career,” Vonn said.
And beyond skiing there is plenty to keep her occupied, from finishing her memoirs and starting a beauty line for active people to executive producing a movie.
On top of all that, she has her upcoming wedding to Canadian ice hockey player PK Subban — although the couple have yet to set a date or a venue.