Lindsey Vonn has admitted that the lofty expectations placed on her do put her under pressure, but the skier is determined to remain focused on her targets as she looks to defend her World Cup crown and go for glory at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The world champion is expected to take home five gold medals from Vancouver next February, dominating the alpine competition in Whistler just as fellow American Michael Phelps has the world of swimming – Phelps is arguably the greatest Olympian ever, having struck Olympic gold 14 times.
Vonn completed back-to-back victories for the first time in last weekend’s season-opening FIS World Cup downhill double header in the Canadian Rockies, becoming the first woman to record seven wins at Lake Louise, Alberta.
'It's hard to win one race, let alone five.' - Lindsey Vonn
However, the 25-year-old is refusing to get carried away, mindful that she has yet to win an Olympic medal after competing in the last two Games. She was also denied a World Cup hat-trick by Austria's Elisabeth Görgl in Sunday’s Super-G.
Vonn, who lives and trains in Vail, Colorado, said: “Going into any Olympics, there are going to be people who are looked at as the people who are going to get medals. I don't know if I'm really one of them. For me, my goal is to win one medal. It doesn't matter what color... For me, a bronze medal would be sufficient. I don't have an Olympic medal, so one of any color would be just fine...
“It's hard to win one race, let alone five. I don't know if the expectations are reasonable, but they're there. I just have to do the best that I can... In some ways, it is a lot of pressure. What's most important for me is just to stay focused on my own goals, and all I can do is do my best."
Vonn’s husband, Thomas, who is also her coach and manager, is only too aware of the weight of expectation heading into 2010 as Olympic fever begins to take over. He said: "There's definitely pressure building. That adds another layer to it – all the questions, and the comparisons to Phelps, and things like that. Obviously, that adds pressure.
"I mean, everyone's talking about five gold medals, even though swimming is different from skiing. It definitely adds things to think about."