Colorado sports fans have to be psyched this week after Peyton Manning said he wants to keep playing for the Denver Broncos even if he wins Sunday’s Super Bowl, and Vail’s Lindsey Vonn told the Today Show she wants to keep racing through the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Both athletes would no doubt have to throw in the enormous qualifier “if healthy.”
Manning is 37 and a couple years removed from multiple surgeries on his neck that almost ended his playing career. Vonn, 29, will be 33 at the 2018 Games and is sitting out next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, after a rushed comeback from reconstructive knee surgery following a crash in the 2013 World Championships in Schladming, Austria.
Vonn today told NBC she is committed to racing through to the next Olympics after she recovers from yet another surgery earlier this month to repair her right knee.
“I’m very motivated,” she said. “I have a lot that I have to accomplish still. I’m going to take my time. I felt a little bit rushed last time with trying to be back and ready for Sochi. I’m going to be racing next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.”
That’s good news for Aspen ski-racing fans because it means the Vail-based skier – if healthy – will have at least three more shots at finally breaking through with a win at the Aspen Winternational World Cup races in November. After a one-year break, those races will return in November and be held for at least the next three seasons.
And, of course, it means Vonn would be able to race in the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships next February in Beaver Creek.
Vonn has said she’s not motivated by Olympic records like the American mark of three (and counting) currently owned by teammate Julia Mancuso (Vonn has two), but she is eyeing the all-time women’s career World Cup victory mark of 62 held by retired Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell.
Vonn needs just four wins next season to capture that record and then she would have to average seven wins a season for the next four seasons to surpass Ingemar Stenmark’s male record of 86 career World Cup wins.
If she can fully recover and last four more seasons in a notoriously brutal sport for aging athletes, then Vonn will have more than earned the title of best American ski racer ever. Too bad her final Games would be so far from home in South Korea, a venue blasted by some observers who say it’s woefully inadequate for contesting the globe’s greatest showcase of snow sports.
No knock on Vail’s Toby Dawson, an Olympic bronze medalist in moguls who was born in South Korea and helped spearhead the bid for those Games, but the International Olympic Committee should be more focused on high-alpine venues than expanding snow sports in global markets at the expense of the Games themselves.
Meanwhile, if it’s actually possible, Bode Miller is sneaking in under the radar in Sochi, rebounding from his own knee injury at a test event there in 2012 and entering his fifth Winter Games with a chance to build on his American alpine record of five medals and perhaps even tie the all-time mark of eight held by Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt.
Miller, 36, took all of last season off to recover from his reconstructive surgery in Vail, and that rehab period served him well. He hasn’t won yet this season but came close with a second in the GS at Beaver Creek in December and third at last weekend’s Hahnenkamm downhill at Kitzbuehel, Austria – the most difficult downhill on the circuit.
Miller is seventh on the career victory list with 33 World Cup wins and has won an Olympic medal in four of the five disciplines, including a medal of every color at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Apparently, though, Miller only garners headlines in the mainstream press when he’s making outrageous statements about drinking and skiing, partying at the Olympics and performance-enhancing drugs.
Back to Manning, I’ve written before that he needs at least one more Super Bowl to cement his all-time-greatest legacy, and he seems like a man on mission. But it’s nice to know whether he wins his second ring or comes up short, he’ll be back to keep breaking records next season.
Check out what two-time mogul-skiing Olympian and former NFL player Jeremy Bloom thinks about Sunday’s game in an article I wrote for my latest web project, Rocky Mountain Post. He talks about his own brief NFL career (and lack of regrets), as well as the Broncos’ acquisition of key slot receiver Wes Welker this season.
The former world champion mogul skier Bloom is headed to the Sochi Olympics next month for his third stint as a broadcaster at the Games. He talks about the evolution of mogul skiing and who to watch for in Sochi in my latest Olympic series installment for the Vail Daily.
I’ve been having a blast delving into Colorado’s Winter Olympics history for the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame, which, if you’ve never been there, is on the third level of the Vail Village parking structure. Go in and see what they’ve done with the place lately. It’s awesome. There are a huge number of Aspen athletes and skiing pioneers represented there.