Lindsey Vonn: ‘I want to represent the US, not Trump’

Skier, set to compete at Winter Olympics, says she would snub White House visit

Lindsey Vonn has said she would snub an invitation to the White House. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP

Lindsey Vonn has said she would snub an invitation to the White House. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP

 

American skier Lindsey Vonn has become the latest athlete to speak out against Donald Trump.

The most decorated female skier of all time told CNN in an interview that aired Thursday that she wants to “represent the people of the United States, not the president” and would turn down the invitation to the White House traditionally put forth to the entire US Olympic team.

“I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony,” Vonn said.

“I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

When asked if she would accept an invitation to the White House, Vonn was to the point: “Absolutely not. Nope. I have to win to be invited so – no, actually I think every US team member is invited. So, no, I won’t go.”

Lindsey Vonn is set to compete for Team USA in February’s Winter Olympics. Photograph: Christophe Pallot/Getty
Lindsey Vonn is set to compete for Team USA in February’s Winter Olympics. Photograph: Christophe Pallot/Getty

Vonn, who turned 33 in October, is preparing for her first Winter Olympics since 2010, when she vaulted to global stardom after capturing gold in the women’s downhill and bronze in the super-G. She missed the Sochi Games four years later while rehabilitating from knee surgery.

The Minnesota native has logged a record 77 career World Cup victories, more than any other woman and second overall to Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark. She is a four-time overall World Cup champion and one of six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing: downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, and super combined.

Vonn is not the first high-profile athlete to speak out against the Trump administration.

Sensational attack

Trump launched a sensational attack on NFL players who have kneeled in protest of the national anthem during a speech in Alabama in September, challenging the league’s owners to release anyone who engages in the movement started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The fiery rhetoric prompted criticism from dozens of NFL players and even league commissioner Roger Goodell, who said “divisive comments like [TRUMP’S]demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”

That same week Stephen Curry, the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player who in June led the Golden State Warriors to second league title in three seasons, told reporters he supported a snub of the team’s traditional White House visit, earning a stern rebuke from Trump, who withdrew the invitation.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star forward LeBron James called the president a “bum” while the Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy went further, calling Trump an “asshole”.

In the CNN interview, Vonn also responded to the IOC’s unprecedented decision to ban Russia’s Olympic Committee from the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Feburary.

“If even a small percentage of that is true I would think the IOC did the right thing,” she said. “Obviously, there are potential athletes that are clean but they have the option now to compete under a neutral flag, which I think is a good solution.

“But doping and what the Russians did is just not acceptable and we have to make that clear. And make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Vonn’s final preparations for Pyeongchang hit a minor snag when she crashed out of the season-opening downhill event in Lake Louise, Austria.

(Guardian service)

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