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Downhill skier Lindsey Vonn is ready for 2010 Olympics

Lindsey Vonn didn’t sound like an exhausted woman.

Fresh off her downhill victory on Monday, the one that earned her a second gold medal at the world championships in France, Vonn was reveling in her latest accomplishments.

“It’s incredible,” said Vonn, who became just the second American woman to win two golds at a world championship (Andrea Mead Lawrence at the 1952 Oslo Olympics). “I just raced with my heart, and I’m just so happy. It’s been an incredible world championships for me.”

So as Vonn decompressed from her exhilarating week, she talked of calming nerves, the 2010 Winter Olympics and joining some illustrious talent in women’s skiing.

How much does this mean to you, especially winning the downhill? It’s my favorite event and always has been since I met Picabo Street. That was always her best event. I feel like it’s a big breakthrough for me. I was pretty nervous, my husband was there with me, and I was able to win despite the nerves. I’ll definitely take what I learn today to the Olympics.

How did your husband Thomas help you there? I was so nervous today and asked him to come to the start; and he’s never done that before. I didn’t know what to do but he knew what I needed to hear. He was making jokes, making me relaxed. In the start he was firing me up and used words he knew would motivate me. When I’m in the right frame of mind in the start, I can just ski. I feel relaxed and it’s much easier to perform. It’s just been a learning process, and my husband has made a huge difference.

You’re now in the category with some great American women skiers, including Lawrence and Street. Is that an odd feeling? It’s really weird. I just feel honored to be mentioned with the great ski legends. I don’t picture myself as someone who’s among such great skiers, I’m just trying to do my best. I’m just out there doing my job, and love what I do.

The downhill was delayed because of excessive snow. Was the delay a help or a hindrance? It was good to get two days off, but at the same time it made me pretty anxious. I was waiting and waiting, and at the end I just want to get it over with. I knew it was good they delayed it a day because the snow conditions weren’t acceptable for downhill run. I knew I had to be ready for today, so I just rested up, got prepared and was ready.

Vancouver will be your third Winter Games. What strides have you made since your first appearance in Salt Lake? Definitely from 2002 I’ve made huge physical advances in my fitness. Mentally, too. Then I was just a rookie trying to get experience, just having a good time. I wasn’t nervous, and that allowed me to ski well. Torino came with more expectations and pressure, and I knew how to handle it a little bit but at the same time I had an injury and it changed the situation for me. knew I wasn’t going to win medals, but I was still trying. These world championships were the toughest because I had the most pressure, but because of what I’ve learned from the past, I’m mentally much stronger. I’ve come a long way.