Golden girl

Feb. 12, 2010, 4:46 p.m. | By Sophia Deng | 14 years, 3 months ago

With the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver just around the corner, the American athletes anticipated to win gold have been elevated to superstar status. There is snowboarder Shaun White, who has made his competitors tremble after he successfully landed a Double McTwist 1260 at the Grand Prix. There is speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, ice skater Evan Lysacek…But perhaps the most important name is alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, the true heroine of the games, the face of the U.S. in Vancouver.

After her shin injury, U.S. alpine skier Lindsey Vonn is still putting her best ski forward in Vancouver.  Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Vonn is not just good - she's great. She has been the overall World Cup winner for two years straight, as well as the downhill and super-G world champion. In Vancouver, the skier will compete in five events, where she is predicted to walk away with five gold medals.

What she will do for the U.S., as well as the sport of skiing, is expected to be tremendous. Vonn may become the first U.S. skier - male or female - to win more than two medals at a single Olympics games. What's more, in the United States, where skiing is less established compared in other countries, including Austria and Norway, Vonn's success will do what Michael Phelps's has done for swimming: bring light to an underrated sport.

However, during a Feb. 10 press conference, Vonn announced that she is currently suffering from a "deep muscle bruise" on her shin, obtained in slalom training on Feb. 3 in Austria. "I'm sitting here today questioning whether, you know, I'll be even able to ski," she said. With every uncertain word out of Vonn's mouth, the United States was slowly losing hope.

Don't count Vonn out; she's one tough cookie. Vonn is not new to injuries popping up during major competitions. In fact, when she had microfractures in her hand during a slalom run in Lienz, she still remained competitive in the World Cup, with an 18th place finish. Besides her physical strength (She's so strong she has to use stiffer men's skis, according to TIME Magazine), Vonn is constantly admired for her strength of character and strength of mind.

More practically, it is difficult to quit when the sponsor of the Olympic Games, NBC, is behind Vonn and when the entire United States is waiting for her to bring back medals. During the 2008 Summer Olympics at Beijing, the Chinese people were devastated after Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang failed to compete in the 110 m hurdles due to an inflamed Achilles tendon. With so much pressure, Vonn will not disappoint herself and her country.

Vonn's injury brings up an interesting question. When is enough enough? In Vonn's condition of "excruciating" pain, she would be expected to compete in the Olympics due to pressures from a multitude of sources. We forget that she is an Olympian, not immortal. Oftentimes, the country places heavy pressures on athletes, especially those in the Olympics and those in the sport of football, to carry out and carry through.

Despite the fact that Vonn is not Lois Lane, I still believe that once an athlete reaches a certain threshold, particularly one that puts them in the public eye, she cannot just think about herself, but also the entire nation. But then again, I'm not the one with five golds and a reputation on the line.

Ah, the good old Olympic Games. Light the torch, and bring the dazzling showcase of athleticism.

Sophia Deng. Sophia was the Managing Editor of SCO during the 2009-2010 school year. When not laughing or chilling to OWL CITY, Sophia can be found oil painting, playing volleyball, doing sudokus and sprinkling happy fairy dust over everyone. She loves folk/pop/electronica indie, Harry Potter, Burt's Bees … More »

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