World-famous ski racer Lindsey Vonn loves Queenstown and believes the resort has what it takes to host a World Cup race.
Vonn, the United States’ most successful ski racer, is in the resort this week training with the US women’s speed ski team.
Now 30, the 2010 Olympic gold medallist ruptured her knee two and a-half years ago but has just had a World Cup record-breaking northern hemisphere season.
She had been coming to Queenstown since she was about 16 or 17, she says.
“It’s always been great training and it’s always reliable conditions – it’s one of the nicest places we go to in the [northern hemisphere] summer.
“I’ve always said New Zealand is one of my most favourite places in the world. It’s so beautiful and the landscape is incredible.”
Vonn, coached by Christchurch-raised Chris Knight, says Coronet Peak provided some of the team’s best off-season training.
The field’s T-bar lift enabled the team to do 10 to 20 runs over a short period of time, which was particularly helpful for testing equipment.
Because they are only training, the team got time to go bungy jumping and karting.
“It’s fun to have the time and flexibility to be able to actually experience the town that we’re in, instead of just going up to the mountain and staying in our hotel.”
Unlike many other top visiting athletes, they’re not banned from any activity: “I mean, ski-racing is probably one of the most dangerous things you can do.”
Not that it is all about adventure: “I like just going to Arrowtown, those little bakeries and coffee shops that are really nice.”
Vonn, who has notched up a record 67 World Cup wins for a female skier, says Queenstown could definitely host a World Cup ski race.
“We’re starting to move into Asia with the Olympics [in Korea in 2018] and if we could do a World Cup down in NZ, I think that would be amazing.”
Following her injury break, Vonn says she was motivated to keep skiing until the next Olympics, and hopefully “do some fun World Cup stuff, too”.
Von, who broke off a relationship with golf star Tiger Woods in May, is reportedly still in contact with him.
Last week, when asked if Woods would win again, she tweeted: ”He will!”