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The Next Level: Lindsey Vonn interview Part 2

In part 2 of our Red Bulletin feature, Lindsey explains how Tiger Woods makes her a better athlete.

Lindsey Vonn poses for a portrait.
© Michael Muller/Red Bulletin

After the frustrations of her first really serious career injury, which you can read about in part 1 of our feature, Lindsey opens up about the personal side of the past year.

In a recent TV documentary, you said that in 2012, when speaking publicly about your depression and your divorce, you felt like an adult for the first time – at 28.
Yes, for the first time I was at a point where I was the one determining what happened in my life.

This late maturing had a lot to do with the fact that you always had dominating men around you: first your father, then your husband.
Yes.

The man currently at your side is a sports icon: the highest-earning athlete in the world, winner of 14 golf majors.
[Laughing.] Nice try. Of course Tiger is a strong character, but he isn’t dominating. He plays a completely different role. I decide what happens in my life. Even Tiger isn’t going to change that.

The other unbelievable thing about Tiger is his mental toughness. There were moments in golf tournaments where I said to myself, 'Okay, Lindsey, this is the next level of self-confidence, concentration, control'

Does Tiger Woods make Lindsey Vonn a better skier?
A better athlete, I would say, yes. One example: I wouldn’t say I’m unprofessional, but the consistency that Tiger shows in his professionalism – wow. No one has any idea how hard Tiger works. Tiger says he wants to be fitter than all the others, that’s his way. So he pushes himself a lot further than he perhaps needs to, and to see that pushes me in turn. The other unbelievable thing about Tiger is his mental toughness. There were moments in golf tournaments where I said to myself, 'Okay, Lindsey, this is the next level of self-confidence, concentration, control. When you make it to this level, it will make you a better skier.'

Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods at the Open Championship in Scotland
Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods at the British Open© Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For example?
At the Masters in Augusta, 2013. There was this stroke where Tiger hit the flag. That stroke cost him the tournament; but he stayed calm and he kept on fighting, even when they wanted to disqualify him. That’s not the kind of news you want to wake up to: good morning, they want to disqualify you. The whole thing affected me more than him.

Before the start of a race, competitive skiers go through the course in their minds, and you wave the palms of your hands in front of your body. It looks funny. Are your hands the surface of the piste?
I’ve never thought about it. [Closes her eyes and raises her hands in front of her chest.] No, they’re the skis.

Sometimes when I’m in bed at night, still visualising courses, I 'fall' just before I fall asleep, simply because I’m too tired

Do you do this virtual run of the course in real time?
Right before the start you don’t, it’s just a refresher. In summer, when we visualise the courses, or in the racing simulator on the balance devices, the times are real.

So you have every downhill course of the season in your head – every bend, every jump – and you can call them up at any time?
Of course.

That means that here, now, on the 15th floor of a Miami hotel, you could run the course at Cortina, or Beaver Creek in real time?
Yes, of course.

When you imagine it, are you always doing your best time?
You don’t do it to a time, but the line is usually perfect. Sometimes when I’m in bed at night, still visualising courses, I “fall” just before I fall asleep, simply because I’m too tired. Then I usually get a fright and suddenly I’m wide awake. Then I have to go right back to the start again.

For the full interview, check out the December 2013 issue of The Red Bulletin, the global monthly magazine. For access to the international issue, download the free app for iOS or Android now.

The Red Bulletin December 2013© The Red Bulletin

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