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From racing men to winning gold, Lindsey Vonn reveals what truly motivates her

Two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn is finally back on the slopes and ready to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

After years of pain and suffering, the 33-year-old has proven that she’s a professional comeback queen: At the 2010 Olympic Games she fractured her finger, during the 2011 World Championships she suffered a nasty concussion, and two years later she tore two knee ligaments and fractured her tibia. Toward the end of 2013, she re-injured her knee, forcing her to drop out of the Sochi Winter Games, fractured her knee again in 2016, and then shattered her humerus later that year.

Now that Vonn is back on the World Cup circuit, she’s ready to accomplish even more: She wants to snag her second Olympic gold medal, break Swedish ski legend Ingemar Stenmark’s record for World Cup wins (86) and race against men—that is if the International Ski Federation (FIS) will let her.

Last week, Excelle Sports got a chance to sit down with the Bounty-sponsored athlete to talk about her goals, Billie Jean King’s Battle of the Sexes and even her squat routine.

[More from Excelle Sports: Pyeongchang 2018 Watch: Seven questions with skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn]

How are you feeling heading into your fourth Olympics after recovering from such horrific injuries? Are you nervous at all?

No, I’m not nervous. I just want to make sure I’m ready and I’m doing everything I can to be ready. I’ve worked really hard this summer. That was the first summer in a while I’ve been really healthy and able to push hard from the very beginning. So I’m in great shape and I feel good. I’ve been waiting eight years for another opportunity to get gold again, so I’m excited.

From watching your videos on Instagram, it’s obvious that you’ve been hitting the gym hard. What’s your back squat PR (personal record)?

I don’t do PR squats anymore. I know I can go really heavy with a squat, but with my knee the way it is, it’s just not worth it. I do PRs with cleans at 72kg (158.73 lbs) and deadlifts at 95kg (209.44 lbs). My trainer has a whole weight training plan to peak for the Olympics, but it’s just too hard on my body to do PRs.

You look extremely explosive and confident in your workout posts, but in a previous interview you said that you would only be “averagely” competitive against men if you raced against them. Why did you say that?

You know, men are a lot stronger than women. That’s unfortunately a fact—in ski racing especially. I train with men all of the time and I’m kind of in the middle of the pack. [If I compete] there’s probably about 60 men that start, so 20th or 30th place would be good. That’s why I want to do it because I don’t know.

You might pleasantly surprise yourself.

Maybe.

So when you heard male Olympic champions like Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud say that you wouldn’t be that competitive, you weren’t upset by that?

I mean, it’s disappointing that they would automatically say that. But I’m realistic about it. I’m not saying I’m going to win, but I’m going to try.

Why do you think the FIS is giving you so much pushback if you just want to try?

It’s just an old school system. They don’t like change and they think it will just open up a big can of worms. I get that. I understand that. But they have to understand that sports are changing. The world is changing and we need to change with it if we want to continue to be a sport that is viewed by people. We have to look at what the fans want to see and we have to adapt.

I know you said you weren’t doing this just for some media attention grab, but if you remember, Billie Jean King’s Battle of the Sexes was such a huge media spectacle. How would you feel if your potential race against men turned into that?

What excites me beyond my own goals and ambitions is what Billie Jean King did. She changed the way people see women in sports. I want to continue to push that and continue to carry that story. I think that is one of the most positive things that could come out of this. I don’t need anymore media attention. That’s not what I’m looking for. I just want to be given an opportunity.

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