In an interview with YouTube journalist Graham Bensinger airing this weekend, Lindsey Vonn discusses a variety of topics, including her relationship with Mikaela Shiffrin as well as questioning the current ski racer for not taking as much of a leadership role on the U.S. Ski Team.
The website, Swnowbrains.com, posted clips of the interview from “In Depth with Graham Besinger,” where Vonn says that she doesn’t think that Shiffrin is the GOAT of skiing and that Shiffrin should take a more active role with the national team. The full interview comes out later this weekend.
In the clip posted, Bensinger starts with “Outside Magazine’s” article, published in November 2018 and repackaged on Feb. 2, 2019, just before that year’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden. Bensinger claims that the magazine called Shiffrin “the greatest skier ever,” when the publication said that, “Mikaela Shiffrin’s only competition is Mikaela Shiffrin: The fastest woman on skis isn’t slowing down.”
Bensinger asks Vonn for her reaction and she replies, “She is the greatest slalom skier. That’s without question. But I think there’s a lot of sensationalism. The media does a lot. They take one thing and generalize it and it becomes totally different. That was at a time that I was still racing and still winning and it’s great for her, but I still feel like it was disrespectful to me. She’s not responsible for what other people write about her.”
For the record, Shiffrin has made no such claim to being the GOAT.
“It’s not that it bothers me,” Vonn continued in the Bensinger interview. “I felt like it wasn’t accurate and it’s not being honest. Say it — she’s the greatest slalom skier ever of all time. Just say that. It’s not that hard. Don’t make it something that it’s not.”
Vonn makes the point clear to Bensinger that she does not consider her relationship with Shiffrin “challenging,” but it’s also not the first time the two have seen things differently.
During the 2019 worlds, right after the Outside Magazine article was republished, Vonn expressed surprise at Shiffrin skipping the downhill and combined after winning the super-G to start the championships. Vonn said that she felt that Shiffrin could win all five races in Are.
Shiffrin ended up winning gold medals in both the super-G and slalom with a bronze in giant slalom, while Vonn wrapped her career with third in the downhill. Shiffrin replied that those races weren’t a part of her plan, saying, “My goal has never been to break records for most (World Cup) wins, points or most medals at world champs. My goal is to be a true contender every time I step into the start.”
It is not uncommon in the ski-racing world to draw comparisons to Vonn and Shiffrin. They are unquestionably the best two racers, regardless of gender, the United States has ever produced. Vonn has won 82 World Cups to Shiffrin’s 66. Shiffrin has the edge in worlds and Olympic medals.
However one compares them, the fact remains that they are vastly different people and athletes. Vonn is outgoing and never afraid to say what she thinks, whether it’s about ski racing, politics or any other subject. Shiffrin is more private, only opening up occasionally about personal subjects like her father’s passing earlier this year.
Athletically, Vonn’s a speedster and Shiffrin’s a tech specialist, though both have crossed over into each other’s strengths with success.
A candid assessment of who’s the GOAT is that Vonn is the greatest of all time now, having won 82 World Cups, while Shiffrin may take over that role if she surpasses Vonn. And we’re on safe ground saying that Vonn is the world’s best downhiller/speed racer, while Shiffrin is queen of making turns.
Vonn also spoke out with Bensinger about Shiffrin leading the U.S. Ski Team, whose depth is somewhat questionable. Vonn said that the two of them always had a cordial relationship when competing, but that Shiffrin might step up her role with the squad.
“You know, I repeatedly, you know, tried to, you know, we, we always help each other with our course reports and I think I just, uh, I don’t, we didn’t have a challenging relationship,” Vonn said. “She just, she had her own thing and she didn’t really wanna be involved or have my help or have anyone’s help for that matter …”
“I mean everyone has their own approach and hers is different from anyone else’s, and that’s why maybe she’s successful. Um, but I also think as a professional athlete and, you know, someone who’s the greatest of all time, it’s your responsibility to help others. Like you’re in a role that you could positively impact so many people and I don’t feel like that’s being utilized in the way that it could be.”