Picabo Street: Vonn can still ‘spank’ competition
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Picabo Street believes Lindsey Vonn can still win even if she’s less than 100 percent because of an injured right shin.
“As embarrassing as it is for the rest of ’em, I’m sorry but, yes, she can spank you on 80 percent,” Street, the 1998 super-G gold medalist, told The Associated Press on Thursday.
“In Torino? No. Now? Yes – because of her physical growth in the last four years and because of her mental growth in the last four years.”
Vonn, the two-time reigning overall World Cup champion, revealed Wednesday that a badly bruised and swollen right shin could sideline her at the Vancouver Olympics. Street thinks the injury could even be a “blessing in disguise,” allowing Vonn to shut out the distractions of sponsor and media demands.
“She is literally the face of America coming into these games, and that is intense,” Street said at an event for McDonald’s.
The injury gives Vonn an excuse to say, “Sorry, my blinders are on. I’m busy. I came here to win medals first and foremost.”
Street hasn’t spoken to Vonn, and she views that as proof that her fellow American is doing just that.
“I think she’s really going to focus in on her program,” Street said, “focus in on what she needs to do to compete, period, not just to win. And then inevitably that’s going to bring a peace and an intimacy to her program that she needs in the middle of all this right now.”
Vonn has skied through injuries before – and won. Those experiences – and all her successes of the last few years – give her a chance to still capture gold in Vancouver, Street said.
“She has got a track record now to look back on and go, ‘OK, this is how I’ve done with this injury. That’s how I did. This is where I was mentally. This is how I felt in my belly,”‘ she said.
“She’s ready,” Street added. “Mentally and emotionally she’ll approach it as she needs to. But, honestly, physically, there’s only so much you can get from your body when you’re asking of it when it’s injured. The key now is can she beat the race of time.”
Street predicted that Vonn will ski as little as possible before her first race so she doesn’t start expecting to feel pain. That will allow her to “stay in the mental space that she was in before – where she gets on the course, she asks her body and it gives her what she needs, and she dominates.”
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