Last weekend, American ski racing star Lindsey Vonn decided to put an end to recent rumors flying around the internet with her own lengthy Facebook post in response to a long chain of fan comments. The online conversation, which included more than 100 comments from both Vonn’s fans and critics, continued for two weeks and touched on everything from mid-season quotes from Vonn to her choice of training apparel. After reading through the comments, Vonn wrote the following response:
Ingie Foxland I can see you have a pretty negative opinion of me, as I’m sure many of the people do who have been reading what some in the German press have been saying about me lately. Of course you are entitled to your opinion, I respect that. In fact I don’t blame you for it one bit, I would feel the same way about a person if all I read was nasty and negative things about them every day. I would like to point out however that there are often two sides to a story, and in my opinion much of what has come out about me so far has been very twisted and one sided. In many cases twisted to the point where the story didn’t even resemble anything close to what had actually happened. I have to be honest I feel like some members of the German media declared war on me this year. As I said in my previous post I will never fully understand why some people choose to be mean and say the things that they do. I have learned to accept it as part of life and as part of my job. Sure it hurts, but I can’t control what other people are going to say or do. What I can do is tell the truth and at least let people hear both sides of the story so they can come to an informed opinion. I would now like to try and clarify some of these stories so that hopefully people will have a better understanding of what happened this season.
You said in your post “As to the European media saying negative things about you, you first gave them reason to do so during the championships in Garmisch. It wasn’t very nice of you to say what you did and to provoke further with wearing the garments you did during the training. You must understand that you are a person of public interest, and that acting like you did would provoke some negative reactions. I absolutely agree that you can’t and won’t act in a certain way just because other people, the press or whoever else saying so. However, a little more sensitivity and maturity on your part would be in order. The same goes for the awards ceremony where your behavior left a lot to be desired, so critique for that is in order.”
Let me take you step by step through what happened at the World Championships in Garmisch. During the free skiing on the hill the day before the SG race many of the coaches and athletes including Maria came up to me and complained about how icy, bumpy, and dangerous they thought the slope was, I completely agreed with them! By the end of the day everybody was talking about it, but nobody was doing anything about it. With a feeling of great concern for not just my safety but for all the athletes, I felt obligated to do something. I decided to release a statement to the press through my facebook page. The statement I released is still posted on my facebook page (Feb 7th). In my statement I criticized the FIS alone for what I and many others felt was an unsafe slope preparation. The reason I targeted the FIS and no one else is because the FIS is in charge of and controls everything to do with course conditions at our races. Nowhere in my statement did I criticize anyone else nor did I have the intent to criticize anyone else. Some members of the media then twisted the story to make it sound like I was criticizing the course workers, Garmisch, the people of Garmisch, Germany, or just tried to make it look like I was generally complaining and being a poor sport. I was completely surprised and caught off guard by the full on attack that came from many in the German media following my statement. From that point forward the a good portion of the German media tried to tear me down and marginalize me whenever possible, and it is still happening today. As I said before I was completely surprised and I still have a hard time understanding how I got such an intense and negative reaction from a statement that was designed for the sole purpose of athlete safety. I thought my statement was pretty clear… but I guess not to some. Again you can go back and see exactly what I wrote it is still posted.
To your next point on Garmisch, that I provoked everyone further by wearing my garments during training. I think you are misunderstanding the situation a bit. I wore my clothing in the second DH training run strictly for medical reasons. Despite what was being reported (again by many in the German media) it wasn’t done to taunt anyone or make a joke of the world championships. Let me explain the situation further, after the Super-G it became very clear that my concussion which the doctors and I thought was gone wasn’t. I felt fine the morning of the Super-G I passed all of the medical tests, completed warm up and felt great, the only time I didn’t feel right was about half way through the Super-G race itself. After the Super-G given the situation we decided that I would skip however many days needed in order to get healthy again, with the hope that I could still race in Garmisch, but with the understanding that that may not be possible. Every day we would reevaluate and see where the injury was at. Despite feeling good and passing all the medical tests I decided to take the first DH training run off just to give myself a little more time. After a day off I felt great and passed all the medical tests again, so we decided that I would try and start the 2nd downhill training run. The problem was I had also felt great and passed all the tests before the Super-G, but then ran into problems half way through my run. My concussion symptoms seemed to only show up under the most extreme stress of actual competition. To be safe we (a team of experts) decided that rather than going full speed in the next training run and risking the same feeling that occurred in the Super-G, I would test the situation out first by reducing the speed. The only way to do that while still maintaining a high intensity was to wear my clothing. By slowing everything down I could still ski fairly normal, but without the added risk of going full speed if I started to feel bad again. I will repeat what I wrote earlier I did not wear my clothes to make some sort of a joke out of the world championships. Why would I want do that, I was trying to win!? But again some in the media twisted the story to try and make it look like I was a poor sport and treating it like a joke. Just to give you an idea of how different some in the media saw this situation, the German media was attacking me saying that I was a drama queen, that I was making a joke of the World championships, and that I was faking my head injury just to gain attention. At the same time the US media criticized me because they didn’t think I was taking my head injury seriously enough, going so far as to say that the doctors and my team should not allow me to race. So which is it? As you can see two very different interpretations of the same event, what both stories have in common is they are pumped full of drama and designed to sell. I guess my version of the story just wasn’t exciting enough.
As to your last point on Garmisch, that my behavior at the awards ceremony left a lot to be desired. I have no idea what you are talking about, this is a story I haven’t heard yet. I was at the awards, and Garmisch put on very cool ceremony. I was thrilled to get a silver medal considering what I had been through that week, and as far as my behavior nothing out of the ordinary happened at all. Please explain?
You said in your post “To say that Maria didn’t deserve the globe and to insinuate that somehow it was her who was responsible that the races weren’t held or that FIS wanted Maria to win is simply unfair. Lindsey implied in the press statement that it was FIS’s fault that made her lose the globe, which is not correct either. She of all people should know better. If this added to the negative comments in the European press, then all the better because she has earned it.”
Again I think you are misunderstanding the situation here. Where did you read that, because I never said anything even remotely close to what you wrote? Let me just clear this up for you, not once did I ever imply or insinuate that Maria didn’t deserve to win, that the FIS made me lose the globe, or that the FIS wanted Maria to win. My original quotes on the matter are still posted on my facebook page (Mar 19th) please go back and read it again. In fact it states the exact opposite of what you wrote. Here is a quote from it – “Maria had an outstanding season and again proved to be my biggest competitor. She’s worked really hard for this, I’m happy for her”. I also said that “A system that allows a decision like this to be made off snow needs to be looked at. The cancellation of this race doesn’t just hurt me, it hurts the fans and the sport of ski racing as a whole. I want to be involved in helping our sport improve.” I think you may be misunderstanding this statement, here is what I was trying to say. All of the winners absolutely deserve the titles and what happened was fair and 100% within the rules of our sport, but I think we can all agree that it would have been much more exciting and better for the sport in general to have all the titles decided by a final race? Scheduling eight races over four days at that time of the year with no makeup days allowed just doesn’t make sense. The point I was trying to make is I think that moving forward some of the rules should be looked at and if a better way is found lets change the rule and not just continue to say oh that’s just part of our sport, even though I have been guilty of using that line myself in the past. Our sport can definitely be improved, and I would like to try to help and be a part of that process. Last year I ended up getting the Super Combined title because of a cancelled race, of course I accepted the trophy, but I didn’t feel great about it and never really celebrated it because of the situation. At the time I said, “Obviously this isn’t the way I wanted to win the title, but I will take it none the less.” I bet if you asked Maria, Cuche, Ligety, etc…how they felt about their titles at the time, they would say something very similar. My point is nobody wants to win a title because of a cancellation they want to win it by reaching for the finish line. That’s why this year when I won the Super Combined title it felt so different, it felt great! I am pretty sure you all knew that already because of the embarrassing little victory dance I did after crossing the finish line in Tarvisio.
In your post you questioned Manfred asking him how does he know what the truth is, and you make a good point. No one will ever know for sure what the truth is, in many of these situations it is one person’s word versus another, and it comes down to who you believe. Each person has to make their own decision, but I would at least hope that people would want to hear both sides of the story before they make a decision like that. Over the past 2 months there have been many rumors and accusation floating around the European press about me. Most of these rumors are very nasty and especially hurtful to me on a personal level, because I pride myself on sportsmanship and being a good role model for kids. That being said, I feel I need to set the record straight, because I believe many people are misinterpreting my silence to mean I am guilty of the accusations, and that just isn’t true. I am not going to go into all the details, but I will do my best to give you my side of the story backed up with facts. Below are some statements, comments, and questions that I have read or been confronted with over the past 2 months, I will answer them now.
1. Lindsey and Maria are no longer friends?
I stopped speaking to Maria after the first run of the WC SL race in Spindler. She did a series of very negative interviews about me in Spindler and has continued to speak negatively about me to the press since. I am very hurt by her actions and I honestly don’t know where our friendship stands at this point.
2. Lindsey didn’t go to Maria’s wedding because she is a poor sport and couldn’t handle losing the Overall title to Maria?
That statement could not be further from the truth. As I’ve said many times before Maria is an exceptional athlete and absolutely deserves to win the title. I have always been happy for her successes even when that has meant she won and I didn’t. Without going into all the details, I decided not to go to Maria’s wedding because since the Spindler WC’s Maria and her camp have been increasingly hostile towards me both personally and publicly. The truth is my husband and I didn’t feel welcome. Even though I don’t agree with some the choices she has made lately, I still have a ton of respect for her as an athlete and I would never skip a friend’s wedding because they beat me at a sport!
3. Lindsey never responded to Maria’s wedding invitation.
Again not true I actually responded twice. The first time was when Maria personally invited me during a dinner we were having together the night before the GS race in Spindler. I told her on the spot that I have been looking forward to her wedding for months and that of course I am coming! Maria, Susi, and I immediately began talking about dresses and a potential bachelorette party while Thomas and Markus were laughing about our excitement. The second time came weeks later, I wrote a letter informing her that Thomas and I would no longer be coming to the wedding. Again I am not going to go into all the details, but in the letter I explained how hurt I was by her actions and I let her know that we didn’t feel welcome.
4. Lindsey is a poor sport she was sulking at the WC finals awards ceremony she wouldn’t do interviews and continued to sulk for weeks after. She just can’t handle the fact that Maria is now better. She didn’t even congratulate Maria in person on winning the overall title.
I find this rumor to be especially hurtful. As I said before I pride myself on sportsmanship and trying to be a good role model for kids. What type of person and role model would I be if this statement was true? To set the record straight, I have personally congratulated Maria on ALL of her successes during her career, and the 2010/11 overall title is no exception! Despite the fact that Maria and I stopped speaking in Spindler the week prior, I still have a ton of respect for her as an athlete and I congratulated her in person while I was hugging her on the podium at the WC finals in Lenzerheide. I also congratulated her publicly dozens of times as well. As far as my demeanor during the awards ceremony of course I am not going to be jumping up and down celebrating like I won, I got 2nd, in my opinion to do so would have been disrespectful to the winner. I acted the same as I always do when I am on the podium, happy, but respectful to the winner. As far as me not doing interviews, there were many factors in play that day. I had already heard about some of the negative comments Maria and her camp had made about me to the press, also there was a big controversy surrounding the cancellation of the race. I decided for a number of reasons that it would best to avoid all the drama and release a written statement instead. Which is still posted on my facebook page. Regarding me sulking for weeks after, that isn’t true either. Shortly after the awards ceremony that very same day, I attended the Head season end celebration, then went out and had a really n
ice dinner with the Red bull team to celebrate the season we just had, and then went to the season ending Audi party where I celebrated late into the night. I had a great time, it was fun to let loose a little and celebrate with all the other athletes and coaches! Does that sound like I was sulking? Again you shouldn’t believe everything you read.
I think that should just about cover most of the rumors. I hope I was able to clarify a few things and debunk some of the nonsense that is out there. As I said many times before, I take sportsmanship and being a good role model very seriously, but I also know that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words. I am comfortable with my track record and I will leave it for you guys to decide. I would rather not talk about any of this tabloid trash, but because of the seriousness of the accusations I felt I owed an explanation to all the people who have been defending me, you guys, my fans! I want to thank you all again for your incredible support and let’s hope for another exciting season next year with a little less drama!