Lindsey Vonn seeks to race in men's downhill
Lindsey Vonn of the United States celebrates after winning a women's Alpine Ski World cup giant slalom competition in Are, Sweden in this March 9, 2012 file photo. AP / Alessandro Trovati)
The Associated Press
Published Monday, October 8, 2012 11:47AM EDT
GENEVA -- Lindsey Vonn wants to challenge the men's downhill skiers in a World Cup race next month, though her wish still needs the support of the United States team and Alpine skiing's governing body.
The U.S. ski federation said Monday that it had not had a "formal discussion" about the possibility of its star racer challenging the men Nov. 24 in Lake Louise, Alta.
Vonn, the women's Olympic downhill champion, has written the International Ski Federation to ask whether she can make the historic start at a venue where she has earned nine of her 26 World Cup downhill victories. The Canadian course -- often dubbed "Lake Lindsey" for her dominance there -- stages women's races, including two downhills, the following weekend.
FIS, however, can't make a decision on Vonn until the U.S. ski team makes a formal request to let her enter.
"There's not anything to say until we have a proposal from the national association," FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association would need to submit a request before the decision-making FIS Council next meets Nov. 3-4 in Oberhofen, Switzerland -- but has yet to decide whether to do so.
"We clearly have great respect for Lindsey, her accomplishments in the sport and her desire to seek this new challenge," Tom Kelly, vice-president of communications for the U.S.S.A., said in a statement. "But we have not had any formal discussion yet between Lindsey and FIS."
"As with any issue or opportunity, decisions we make are management decisions but include all appropriate parties," Kelly wrote.
One likely factor is obligations to broadcaster NBC, which committed to starting live coverage of World Cup races on its NBC Sports Network cable channel this season.
When the men are racing Nov. 24-25 in Lake Louise, the women's World Cup circuit makes its one scheduled stop in the United States, with giant slalom and slalom races scheduled on a holiday weekend program at Aspen, Colo.
In an August news release, the U.S.S.A. said "live coverage will feature Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso from the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational Thanksgiving weekend."
"We would weigh all elements, including TV, in the context of how we can best support athletes like Lindsey," Kelly wrote in an email reply to the AP.
A FIS rule limiting athletes' access to extra training time on slopes so close to race days also counts against Vonn's chances.
By taking part in men's training and races at Lake Louise, the rule would bar Vonn from the subsequent women's races -- two downhills and a super-G -- for having gained an unfair advantage in familiarizing herself with the slope.
Vonn may be unwilling to jeopardize losing race points that have been the foundation of her four overall World Cup titles and five straight downhill season trophies.