American skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn’s Queenstown return is no relaxing break.
She’s not resting on her laurels after an incredible year topped by winning a Winter Olympics gold.
The record-breaking glamour girl – who won the women’s downhill at Vancouver in February – arrived in Queenstown last Sunday for a three-week training stint at Coronet Peak.
Vonn, 26, hit the slopes on Tuesday with several US team-mates to prepare for a 2011 season in which she’ll defend World Cup and World Championship titles.
“I’ve had a pretty amazing past 12 months but there are a lot of girls snapping at my heels now so I have to keep working hard to stay ahead of the game,” she tells Mountain Scene.
“I’ve been coming to Queenstown in the winter for the past five or six years because the training here is some of the best in the world and away from the mountain it’s also got some cute shops and great restaurants.”
Vonn gave alpine ski racing’s profile a huge boost last month when she scooped Best Female Athlete at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles – regarded as the highest female honour in US sport.
“I thought I had zero chance of winning that one because I’m usually up against the likes of Serena Williams,” Vonn says.
“Ski racing doesn’t usually get that kind of attention and it really is a testament to how much more popular the
sport has become in recent times and that’s what means the most to me.”