Vonn flaunts sex appeal

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

WHISTLER, B.C. — When she arrived here injured, the American media breathlessly predicted all eyes will be on Lindsey Vonn’s right shin.

Just guessing, but the rest of her anatomy might get a little attention, too.

The superstar skier came to the B.C. mountain resort town billed as the darling of the Games, both for her looks and marketability and the prospect of skiing away with multiple medals.

When she finally gets on with the show in Wednesday’s women’s downhill, the world will get a close-up look at the babe of the Games, a female athlete who seems to have it all.

In no particular order, she has:

Looks: Check out the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Money: With endorsements reported to be in the $3.5-million range annually, she’s one of the richest non-hockey playing athletes in the Games.

Talent: The two-time defending World Cup champion is heavily favoured to win gold in the women’s downhill and Super-G and contend for medals in at least two other disciplines.

Critics resent the fact NBC has focused on making these the “Vonn-couver Olympics,” much like the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing were all about swimmer Michael Phelps.

Vonn’s supporters would argue that if you’ve got it, why not flaunt it?

“It’s not something I would do, but I have no problem with Lindsey posing in a swimsuit,” Canadian skier Britt Janyk said. “I wouldn’t do it myself, but if it works for her. Why not?”

While she may well win back-to-back gold here, Vonn got hearts aflutter recently with news of a different double. It started when she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Olympic preview edition, followed by appearing in a future shoot for the swimsuit edition.

Vonn feels no need to apologize for selling her sexuality or her desire to market herself, nor should she. In fact, she wishes North Americans would just chill a little about a photo shoot that may be a touch racy, but still in good taste.

“I try to be a good role model and represent the Olympic spirit,” Vonn said recently. “Maybe that’s what NBC saw in me.

“I’m okay with nudity, I’m okay with being naked. There shouldn’t be a big deal made about it.”

Almost from the moment she arrived, Vonn has been the big story, one made more explosive by the fact she came in with a painful deep muscle bruise on her shin.

The diva image gets some fuel with her “Vonntourage,” which includes two personal trainers, her own ski technician and her husband/personal coach, Thomas Vonn. But it’s all part of the show.

While the weather delays that have messed up the schedule here have given her some needed recovery time, Vonn admitted her first training session Monday was painful.

To that end, the overall World Cup champion for the past two years has been star-crossed with ill-time injuries. Four years ago she had a nasty fall just prior to the Torino Olympics and though she completed, didn’t come close to a medal.

At the 2009 world championships in Val d’Isere, Vonn sliced open her right thumb while opening a celebratory bottle of champagne. And now, there’s the shin.

“I have faced a lot of challenges in the past, but I’ve always been able to push through,” Vonn said. “This is definitely the most painful injury I’ve ever had. It’s going to be very, very challenging.

“I’ve given up a lot in my life and my career to be here. I hope it pays off.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

Babes of the 2010 Games:

American superstar Lindsey Vonn isn’t the only female athlete lauded for her looks as much as physical appeal as her athleticism.

Here’s a few of the others that are easy on the TV cameras:

Therese Johaug, Norway, cross-country

Mellisa Hollingsworth, Canada, skeleton

Torah Bright, Australia, snowboard

Anna Friesinger-Postma, Germany, speedskating.

Hannah Teter, U.S., snowboarding.

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