Lindsey Vonn has plenty of time to think about her future immortality about the rehabilitation equipment that occupies her time. She knows that alpine skiing, for thirty years, is holding on to a name and a figure, mythical: Ingemar Stenmark and 86 victories in the World Cup. And that she would go into history by winning four races to be her equal.
What seemed, ten years ago, a certainty, so much so that she dominated the women's circuit, became, in the course of her wounds, a mere hypothesis. The season 2018-2019 of the alpine ski "lady of iron" was sabotaged, again, by a glitch in her left knee, on the eve of the recovery in North America.
Vonn was back on Friday, January 18, on the descent of Cortina d & # 39; Ampezzo (Italy). In her garden of the Dolomites – 12 victories on this track – she stayed away, more than a second, from a 83e success in the World Cup. Revenge, this weekend, with a new descent and a super-G.
For the press, to which she invariably answers with her dog Lucy in her arms (who has 37,400 subscribers on Instagram, yes, we speak well of the bitch), Lindsey Vonn is now low on demand for Stenmark's record: "The record will not define me, whether I have it or not, it will not change the job I leave in this sport"she recently said to the Associated Press.
And unfolds its social implication, recalling that in the United States it is largely beyond the reach of its sport: "I do not need 87 victories to continue the work of my foundation, to help children, to encourage people to live healthy and active, to stay positive in order to achieve their dreams and goals."
This can be seen, and Vonn knows it; she only had Stenmark's record at the start of 2018 at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. She could have chosen to end her career at the age of 33, on a bronze medal in super-G. This Stenmark brand was his reason to continue for another season.
After missing her favorite stop in Lake Louise, Canada, in November 2018, she promised to come back within a year. That is what Marie Marchand-Arvier, her second place in the descent of the 2009 World Championships, is cautious: "I think it would be great to do six months of preparation just to race in the summer next summer, and as a competitor I do not see how she can consider that, even though it is Lindsey Vonn: she has a specific background."
From Saturday there are nine races left this season at Lindsey Vonn to reach and exceed the Swedish record. He should earn more than half, which is not unachievable. "She will do it for mesays Marchand-Arvier. We will arrive at races that suit him, especially Cortina, and there is less speed density. Sofia Goggia is absent, girls also come back from an injury [la championne du monde Ilka Stuhec], which can facilitate the return of Vonn. "
If the Swedish brand is defeated, it will be time for a new fight between old and new: some will emphasize that the World Cup, at the time of Stenmark (1974-1989), was slightly less rich in events, others that the competition is now higher .
Hirscher, a crazy rhythm
That Marcel Hirscher exceeds 86 Stenmark's victories and the case will be heard: he will be the best. In the race for the record, the Austrian left more recently, but faster than Lindsey Vonn. He could participate in the 86 victories at the end of the next season. The technician with 67 wins wins more than two thirds of the races in which he participates and, like Ingemar Stenmark, chose to concentrate his efforts on what he controls: giant and slalom.
Few have seen the two men moving close, thirty years apart. Maurice Adrait, former coach, then press officer of the French team, has always been on the track since his retirement in 2016. "For years I thought the Stenmark record was unreachable, then there was [Hermann] Maier. He played in three disciplines, we thought he would get there, but he had his leg crushed [dans un accident de moto en 2001]. But Hirscher, this machine, this physical and that mental, we think it would be logical. Like Stenmark, he does not let go, he is constantly in time. And yet the level is even heavier nowadays, especially among men. "
Hirscher is 29 years old and thinks nothing of the record, or almost. He often talks about retirement, he who became father and filled the Olympic void in Pyeongchang – two gold medals. But the circuit was paying attention to the tired tunes of the Austrian, able to win a race that he thought he would not start the day before. The point is that he almost never hurts himself: "It does not spread, observes Marie Marchand-Arvier. It has been very well preserved, in contrast to Lindsey Vonn, who had many extraport activities. "
More than fatigue, it is often the injuries that have been good for the skiers of the ski, occurring as a member of Stenmark in a day. There was Maier, who stopped at 54, but also the Croatian Janica Kostelic, led by her knees after collecting 30 successes at the age of 24 (1998-2006).
Mikaela Shiffrin is she made from another wood? With the American, the number of victories fell rapidly, because it was imposed once or twice a week, so much so that it no longer took the arms up on arrival. At the moment she has 53 at the age of 24. We also start talking about the record.
Shiffrin says that with a lot of distance. In the Swiss newspaper timeat the beginning of the season:
"For an athlete there are several sources of motivation: on the one hand pleasure, on the other hand, breaking victory and records, I concentrate on the first source, because I feel free and happy when the other person is synonymous with pressure .
– Do you leave a trace in the history of your sport is not your priority?
– No. I want to be the best skier for as long as I am active. I do not want to break all records. It may seem as if two ambitions are close, but for me they are very different. "
Almost unbeatable in slalom, she started in 2018 to extend her supremacy to speed. In moderation: Mikaela Shiffrin takes care of her recovery time and chooses to make her races last. Planned to become a champion from a young age, followed by her family all winter, the American does not seem to have to stop his career at the age of 25, just like Jean-Claude Killy. But we have seen supremations break without warning.
By the way, what does the person think? When he was asked in January 2018 whether Marcel Hirscher would beat his record one day, Ingemar Stenmark responded to the Austrian newspaper Small Zeitung : "I think so. " The Swede has always been a man of few words.