Vonn and Shiffrin represent Alpine's best - past, present, future

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn

A tearful Lindsey Vonn vowed Friday (Feb 9) to "lay it all out" at her fourth Olympics to honour her late grandfather, the inspiration behind her stellar ski career.

This time around she confirmed she will compete in the downhill, super-G and the combined. Questions about Don Kildow, and the tears they prompted were inevitable following Vonn's use of social media to pay tribute to the man who first put her on skis as a two-year-old in Wisconsin.

When Vonn's trip to South Korea turned into a 24-hour ordeal of that special frustration that is an airline delay, there was a moment or two when she wondered if bringing Lucy along for the ride was a great idea.

"Yeah, um, I'm not sure where to start, exactly", Shiffrin said, rolling her eyes a bit as she searched for the right words.

"It's what I think about first thing when I wake up and what I think about when I go to sleep", she said. And I really had hoped he would be alive to see me.

Shiffrin said she confronts anxiety - "a lot more mental stress these last two years than I ever had" - by working with a sports psychologist. And I know that he's going to help me. I miss him so much, he's been such a big part of my life. How the Winter Olympics will miss her, a bonefide, full-bore, max blonde, Hollywood turn, who happens to be pretty good on skis, too.

But she has won four World Cup races this season, including back-to-back downhills coming into the Games, to close to within five victories of the all-time record held by Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark. I'm skiing exceptionally well.

Vonn said she was fortunate early in her career not to suffer many injuries, but "these last few years have really dinged me up". "She travels with me everywhere".

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"In 2010, I was a much healthier athlete, but in 2018, I'm a much stronger athlete, not just physically but mostly mentally".

She said the the pressure is even greater now because this is her last Games and "because I want to end on a high note". We do have reserve days and if it's more windy than today, the gondola's not going to run so then we have a major problem and (the race) is not going to happen.

Injury robbed her of a chance to defend her title in Sochi in 2014 and she is determined to make up for that.

They talked about life and family and, of course, skiing, and the idea of going head-to-head as Shiffrin prepared to expand her repertoire to include the speed races that have been Vonn's domain for years and years. She ranked 36th in super-G in the 2016 World Cup standings and followed that up by moving up to 24th a year ago, ranking 22nd so far in the 2018 season.

Her Olympic history is covered in more crashes than glory.

"I have someone looking out for me", she said. "She enjoys sleeping a majority of the day. As long as my knee is holding up and I'm still able to win then I will keep skiing, but it really depends on my knee, that's the determing factor on my retirement". But I know he's watching.

But a photo of Vonn and her dog after the pair made it to South Korea tells a hilariously different story.

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