PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 23 (Reuters) - American Mikaela Shiffrin, Olympic giant slalom gold medallist in Pyeongchang, isn’t buying the “official line” that her team mate Lindsey Vonn won’t take part in the next Games in Beijing.
Vonn, downhill bronze medal winner this week and champion in Vancouver eight years ago, has repeatedly said this is probably her final appearance at the Olympics.
But, after Vonn’s sisters cautioned not to rule out the 33-year-old making one final appearance in China in 2022, Shiffrin also expressed scepticism.
“It’s funny, because every time I hear anybody saying anything about this it’s ‘most likely, probably, maybe, we’ll see but not sure’.
“I’m like, ‘Knowing Lindsey, I don’t believe her’,” Shiffrin told a news conference on Friday.
Shiffrin has emerged as the next star of the U.S. Alpine skiing team but the 22-year-old dismissed the idea she is taking over from Vonn.
“I don’t think I can fill her shoes the way she has worn them ... I haven’t had a lot of thoughts about it because first of all I don’t think Lindsey thinks she’s done yet, or passing the baton and I don’t see myself taking the baton,” she said.
Pyeongchang downhill champion Sofia Goggia also believes there is a chance of Vonn carrying on for another four years.
The Italian contacted Vonn on Thursday and told Italian media she had urged the American not to quit before Beijing
“You are too much of a champion, you can manage (your schedule), you can only do the downhills,” she told the American.
Vonn confirmed she had heard from Goggia.
“She wrote me last night – she wanted to talk to me and she was trying to convince me to keep going until 2022. It means a lot to me that she enjoys racing with me as much as I enjoy racing with her, I respect her very much, especially because of all the injuries she’s had as well,” Vonn said.
“I told her – if I can, if I physically could continue for four years then I probably would, as long as I considered myself still a competitor.
“But four years is a really long time, I told her that. She says she is going to keep trying to convince me but we will see,” added Vonn.
Minnesota-born Vonn needs six more World Cup wins to beat Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 victories and become the most successful skier of all-time.
“I am not going to stop ski racing until I break it,” Vonn said.
“This year didn’t start off the way I had hoped...but I was still able to win four races. I think next year will go a lot better also with my focus shifting to the World Cup instead of the Olympics,” she added.
“It will give me more time to really be prepared for each race and not focused on peaking for February. I think next season I can get it done because I am not getting any younger,” she said.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond