Plan to race men not seen as serious, Vonn says

Lindsey Vonn, of the US, warms up during a course inspection on the glacier of Soelden, in Austria, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012. The Alpine Ski World Cup goes underway Saturday, Oct. 27, in Austria with the women’s World Cup Giant Slalom. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

By Manuele Lang

SOELDEN, Austria, Oct 26 (Reuters) – World Cup and Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn complained on Friday she was not being taken seriously in her attempt to take part in a men’s downhill in Lake Louise.

“It has definitely been frustrating,” Vonn told Reuters. “This is not something I had intended to spread in the media, at least not until it would be sure that I can race.

“I know the reasons why I’m doing it and I’m standing behind my fight, but definitely, it does hurt me because people don’t believe me,” the American said on the eve of the Alpine ski season opener, a giant slalom on the Austrian glacier of Soelden on Saturday.

Vonn, the second most successful woman skier in the history of the sport, made headlines before the start of the season when she wrote to the International Ski Federation (FIS) asking to be allowed into the men’s race in the Canadian resort of Lake Louise on Nov. 24.

Vonn said she had not given up on the idea, despite not receiving an answer from the FIS.

“I’m trying to get ready for the race tomorrow but also I’m still trying to get to be able to race with the men,” said the four-times World Cup champion, who won her first giant slalom in Soelden a year ago, completing a collection of wins in all five Alpine disciplines.

“So far, I haven’t heard any decision yet from FIS, but I have to wait until the FIS council meeting on the 2nd and 3rd,” she added.

The men’s race takes place a week earlier than the women’s, on the same course.

“I’ll push it, until I get what I want. I’m just asking for a chance,” said Vonn, who has won nine downhills on the Lake Louise piste.

“You don’t know your limit until you push it. I think that this is just a barrier that needs to be broken.”

Austrian racer Bjoern Sieber, who should have been a forerunner in Sunday’s men’s giant slalom in Soelden, was killed in a minibus crash in the Alps on Friday, team officials said.

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