ASPEN, Colo. — Lindsey Vonn is healthy enough to race in Aspen even if her heart is farther up north.
Although weakened by a bad stomach bug, the four-time overall World Cup champion will compete in one of the two races this weekend. She will take part in the giant slalom today and then skip the slalom Sunday to conserve energy.
Really, though, she'd rather be in Lake Louise, Alberta, at this moment competing against the men. Vonn recently requested to participate in a men's downhill race, only to be rejected by the International Ski Federation.
Unfortunately, FIS made the decision that a woman cannot race with the men, Vonn said Friday night as she discussed her illness for the first time. For me, the story is still ongoing. It's not over yet. There's still next year. I'm going to keep working hard to make my dream a reality.
Vonn recently returned to training after missing time with an intestinal issue that landed her in the hospital. But doctors have at least kept it under control with antibiotics. With each day, her strength is returning.
I'm not going to lie — it was really bad. It was definitely the most pain I've been in, in my life, said Vonn, who came down with the bug shortly after attending a ski team fundraiser in New York last month. I'm not the kind of person who goes to the hospital.
The Olympic downhill gold medalist spent two nights in the hospital with what she described on Facebook as some infection in my tummy. She returned to training last week in Vail and also squeezed in a downhill practice session at the U.S. Ski Team's speed center at Copper Mountain.
Her stamina and energy, though, have been completely zapped by the virus. So much so that she has yet to even make it through a full giant slalom practice run without pulling off to the side out of breath.
I'm not really sure what to expect, but I'm excited to be able to race in my home state in front of the home crowd, she said. Racing, to me, is the fun part. I'm not exactly expecting much from the results.
This venue has been far from friendly to Vonn in recent seasons. She's failed to finish a race five times on this course and didn't qualify for a second run on another several occasions. Her best finish in Aspen is fourth place.
Not only that, but it was here, about a year ago, when Vonn announced that she and her husband of four years were divorcing. She then dominated the season with 12 wins, reclaiming the overall title from Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany by setting a new overall points record at 1,980.