Home > Miscellaneous > Lindsey Vonn: Sport’s least recognised superstar?

Lindsey Vonn: Sport’s least recognised superstar?

February 13, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The sporting world is bursting to full with superstars who enjoy worldwide fame. Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer, Manny Pacquiao, Serena Williams… the list goes on. This Monday gone (7th February) the galaxy of stars came out to play at the sporting world’s equivalent of the Oscars, the Laureus World Sports Awards. Amongst the winners in Abu Dhabi were household names such as the Spanish National Football Team, Rafael Nadal and Zinedine Zidane, but the winner of the Sportswoman of the Year award had many people asking: ‘Lindsey who?’

This may seem slightly unfair but the recipient of the award is a classic example of somebody who competes in a sport which is not mainstream in most countries. Lindsey Vonn is however, a genuine sporting superstar and fully deserving of the award.

For those who are not aware, Vonn is the world’s leading female skier by some distance and arguably the biggest name in the sport, male or female. She has been nominated for the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award on two previous occasions in 2009 and 2010 before making it third time lucky and winning the prestigious gong for her exploits in 2010.

2010 was always going to be a big year for Vonn with the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and she made sure it was a memorable one. However, things did not go to plan in Canada as a combination of uncharacteristic errors and injury meant that Vonn did not achieve the medal haul she, and many others, expected.  She announced that she would compete in five events at the Olympics, but just a week before her first event was due to begin, she revealed she was carrying a shin injury which was causing her serious pain. The American refused to give in and battled her way to an impressive gold medal in the Downhill, finishing over half a second ahead of fellow Team USA skier Julia Mancuso. Thereafter however, things went downhill (if you will pardon the pun). In her second event, the Super-Combined, Vonn led after the downhill section but crashed out during the slalom. Her third event was the Super-G and despite not skiing as aggressively as she can, Vonn managed a bronze medal.

Lindsey Vonn shows off the gold medal she won in Vancouver (This image is the property of AFP)

Following this bronze medal, the games’ star attraction moved on to the Giant Slalom where she once again crashed out, breaking a finger in the process. Things did not improve in her final event, the slalom, as she straddled a gate and was consequently disqualified. Despite returning from Vancouver with a gold and a bronze, Vonn’s games were seen as something of a disappointment, but being the professional she is, she refused to blame injury.

The fact that an Olympic gold medal and a bronze medal are seen as an underachievement is testament to Vonn’s talent and her overall season’s results leave no doubt that she is currently the world’s most dominant skier.

A career best 11 wins netted her the Overall World Cup Title, as well as discipline World Cup Titles for Downhill, Super-G and Combined. At the age of just 26, Vonn has 39 World Cup race wins to her name, a record for an American skier male or female, and is only the second woman in history to win three consecutive overall World Cup titles. Don’t bet against her extending this run. 

Vonn is a true superstar in the United States, starring in TV commercials and endorsing several sporting products, most notably Head skis. At the age of 26, she is showing no signs of slowing down and can look forward to many more years of success. The fact that she is affable, good looking and successful should mean that she is a global superstar, especially if one looks at other athletes who share these attributes (Tiger Woods, Oscar de la Hoya, David Beckham), but the non-global nature of her sport means that she will probably never be a globally recognised household name. This is a no fault of her own and it is refreshing to see such a prestigious awards ceremony recognising somebody who excels in a niche sport and is more than worthy of such an award.

For full list of Laureus Award Winners see:  http://www.laureus.com/awards/2011/winners

Lindsey Vonn

Name: Lindsey Caroline Vonn

Place of Birth: St. Paul, Minnesota, United States of America

Nationality: American

Olympic Games Medals: Gold: Downhill, Bronze: Super-G (Vancouver 2010)

World Championship Medals: Gold: Downhill, Super-G (Val d’Isere 2009), Silver: Downhill, Super-G (Are 2007), Downhill (Garmisch 2011)

Personal Awards: 2011 Laureus Sportswoman of the Year

                                    2010 Associate Press Female Athlete of the Year

                                    2010 United States Olympic Committee Sportswoman of the Year

                                    2009 Skier d’Or

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Categories: Miscellaneous
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