Ski star Vonn vows to win for late grandfather

Chloe Kim has plenty of pressure on her in PyeongChang

Chloe Kim has plenty of pressure on her in PyeongChang

Among the 244 US athletes participating in PyeongChang, none is more famous, more photographed or more scrutinized than Vonn.

This Olympics provides such a stage for Vonn, who is skiing as well as she has since the last Olympics - which she missed with a bad knee.

"I feel really good, because it's not really about me or my career", Vonn said. I would like to win.

'He's been such a big part of my life. I really had hoped he'd be alive to see me.

"It's the Olympics, getting sixth place doesn't do a whole lot of good here", Miller said. "But I know he's watching, and I know that he's going to help me, and I'm going to win for him".

"I want to end on a high note", she told a press conference yesterday.

Vonn smiled and kidded around for much of the half-hour Q-and-A, but her mood changed when she was asked about her grandfather, Don Kildow, who died in November. The gold medal from the Sochi Games four years ago at age 18, a trinket she wrapped in a sock for safe keeping.

"I wish you wouldn't have said that".

The 33-year-old American said she wouldn't be able to contend for a medal in the GS, "so there's really no point".

And that's why Lucy can be the X-factor in this quest for Olympic redemption.

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The flatter gradient and softer snow of the Jeongseon Alpine Centre's course will benefit aerodynamic skiers that are good gliders on fast skis, attributes that can not be developed quickly.

"I have someone looking out for me", she said. Before Vonn headed back onto the World Cup circuit last fall, she made what has become an annual sojourn back to their simple house, where she sleeps on a house in the basement. The Olympics-bound athlete is the most accomplished female ski racer in history, with 78 World Cup wins under her belt. "It's extremely lonely on the road ..." So I got Lucy. I always have her with me.

A dog wags it tail, whether you bring home a gold medal or not.

A dog, which never bites the hand that feeds it, is more trustworthy than a Tiger.

She arrived in South Korea about 1½ weeks ahead of her opening race and has trained about a half-dozen times.

"Because of the schedule and because it's my last Olympics, it's very important to me to attend", she said, "and I'm going to get as much of the Olympic experience in these next two weeks as possible".

But the relatively risk-free course could quickly turn risky for skiers desperate to make the most of their shot at an Olympic podium by throwing caution to the wind.

Innerhofer predicted few surprises come race day here "because this slope is different from last two olympics".

A healthy Vonn has been a rarity the last few years, but her problems have usually been more along the lines of injuries rather than illness.

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