heinnews’s David Hein found some time to head to the ski slopes, actually the recent FIS parallel slalom at Munich’s downtown Olympic Park. Hein caught up with American alpine skier and 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn. They discussed the atmosphere of 25,000 spectators for a ski race; FIS allowing World Cup points for the race; the parallel slalom becoming more of a staple of the FIS calendar; Munich’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics; and the rest of the 2010-11 season.
heinnews: Lindsey, you went out in the second round of the Munich parallel slalom against Maria Pietila-Holmner. What are your thoughts on the race?
Vonn: It was a really fun race today. There are so many people here and it’s a great atmosphere. Unfortunately in the second round I went out in the first run and just wasn’t able to make up that much time. Maria is a great skier, she has won the slalom in Aspen. So it was just too much to make up the time. But I did my best and it was fun for sure. I’m happy I got to do it.
heinnews: What do you think of this event?
Vonn: I think it’s a great event. I think the atmosphere here is perfect. I think having the race in the city is perfect. We don’t often have the chance to ski in front of so many people. For me the only downside is the way they organized it with the overall World Cup points. I don’t think that was the way to do it. I think it was unfair to award overall World Cup points to a parallel slalom. But at the same time I think that this is a great chance for us to show our sport and show it in a place where so many people can come and watch. It’s not always easy to come out to the mountains, and it’s expensive. For everyone in the city here tonight to come out and support us was really cool.
heinnews: The Munich mayor asked the crowd if they would like to have this event next year – and they gave a triumphic yeah. Do you see this event being back here next year as a World Cup event if it’s better planned?
Vonn: That’s all that I ask – that FIS talk to us and that we can find a solution for the points and how to set it up so that it makes sense for the athletes and spectators. But for me I would absolutely love to come back here. I think that this is an outstanding event. This is what our sport needs and I’m excited to be part of it.
heinnews: Do you see this happening in more cities?
Vonn: Definitely. I think these are great exhibition-type races where we can show skiing and get people excited and have a bit of a party as well. This can happen anywhere at any city. As you can see in Moscow, they built the slope in the center of the city, so we can do it in New York. That would be something incredible. Anything is possible. You just have to have an open mind.
heinnews: You have been to the Olympics and Munich is bidding for the 2018 Winter Games. What do you think about 2018 and Munich’s chances?
Vonn: Right now my plan is to ski until the 2015 World Championships in Vail, Colorado. I definitely have a very open mind about skiing until the 2018 Olympics. As long as I am still healthy, I think there’s a good chance that I will be competing. I think Munich and Garmisch is a great place to have the Olympics. From an athlete’s perspective it’s one of the best places because you actually have a great mountain. Sometimes with the Olympics it’s not always about what’s the best mountain for the athletes. But actually this time I think it’s a great choice. I hope they get the Olympics and I hope I get a chance to ski in them.
heinnews: What did you think about the draw you had in the parallel slalom – facing in the first round Susanne Riesch, the younger sister of your good friend Maria Riesch?
Vonn: I thought initially it would be a disadvantage because I was originally scheduled to compete against Daniela Merighetti. But as it turned out Merighetti was a tough competitor today (finishing fourth). I’m pretty happy to have gone against Susy. But it was fun. I have a great relationship with Susy as well as Maria. So it was fun to race against her. I was looking forward to a final with Maria and me, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. But next time maybe.
heinnews: What are your thoughts about the rest of the season with the fight between you and Maria Riesch for the overall World Cup title?
Vonn: I’m excited, this whole overall fight is going to be interesting all the way until the end. I’m just going to keep trying to ski my best. My chance to get more point is in super-G. I think this GS I think have a chance as well. I just have to keep trying to ski solid and keep trying to win as many races as I can. And hopefully I can get ahead of her by the finals.