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Friday, October 19, 2012
Lindsey Vonn wants to ski Kitzbuehel

Associated Press

SOELDEN, Austria -- Awaiting approval to race against men, Lindsey Vonn says she wants to compete on the challenging Kitzbuehel downhill course after her retirement from the women's circuit.

The four-time overall World Cup champion is waiting to hear from skiing's governing body about competing in the men's downhill in Lake Louise next month. Vonn said would like to race on the Streif course after ending her career, the Austria Press Agency reported Friday.

"I would have less worries about getting injured then," said Vonn, who is the Olympic downhill champion.

The 2-mile Streif downhill is widely regarded one of the most dangerous courses with a maximum grade of 85 percent. The course has been the scene of several bad crashes in recent years, with racers Scott Macartney, Daniel Albrecht and Hans Grugger sustaining near-fatal head injuries.

Vonn, who turned 28 on Thursday, said this week she will only compete with the men on Nov. 24 in Lake Louise if FIS allows her to start in the women's race on the same course the following week.

"If it's not possible to do the women's race in Lake Louise, I am definitely not going to start in the men's race," Vonn said. "But I will keep on fighting for my goal."

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association needs to submit a formal request before the decision-making FIS Council next meets Nov. 3-4 in Oberhofen, Switzerland -- but has yet to decide whether to do so.

"This is still in discussion," U.S. ski team spokesman Doug Haney told The Associated Press on Friday.

If Vonn were allowed to challenge the men, she likely would be denied a start in the women's race to prevent her from getting an advantage over her female competitors. A FIS rule limits athletes' access to extra training time on slopes close to race days.

Vonn said racing against men was "a goal for me, for my life ... I thought Lake Louise would be the best race for me because I know that course. On all other courses the men use, I would have no chance as I have never raced on them."

Vonn's ambition has triggered a discussion among skiers, some favoring her request, others opposing.

"I don't fear her, but I think it's cool," men's overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher said. "If this is what she really wants to do, then let her do it."

Felix Neureuther of Germany said Vonn should put the idea out of her head.

"On the women's side, she's the absolute No. 1 in downhill and maybe the best downhill racer of all time," he said. "But she should stick to what she can do best. A men's downhill is definitely a completely different story."

Vonn said she was overwhelmed by the reactions to her plan.

"I was surprised how it exploded," she said. "It was just the question, which steps had to be made so I could do it once. Suddenly, it's a giant story."

The World Cup season starts with women's and men's giant slaloms at the Soelden glacier on Oct. 27-28.