SBD/Issue 104/Olympics

Vonn, Teammates Defend Her Appearance In SI's Swimsuit Issue

Vonn Says She Was
Honored To Be In SI
Members of the U.S. ski team "jumped to Lindsey Vonn's defense Wednesday after some in the sports landscape criticized [her] for posing" in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Skier Kaylin Richardson said, "For little girls, there's something to see -- a beautiful, athletic, strong, powerful, female body among all these real thin models in the magazine." She added, "Some people might say you're objectifying your body. I don't think that's true at all." Vonn said of the shoot, "I think Sports Illustrated is a very respected magazine, and they've always done classy and tactful pictures, so I thought it was a good opportunity. ... I was honored to be in it" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/11). In Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes notes members of the ski team yesterday were "prepared for questions about whether Vonn's extreme exposure" in the swimsuit issue "demeaned womankind." Skier Julia Mancuso: "There's nothing to hide. We're not models. We're all athletes. It's great to show off your athletic body." Hayes notes Vonn's teammates believe she is "doing more than promoting ski racing." She is "eroding the Barbie Doll ideal to which the standard swimsuit models adhere" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/11). However, Mancuso later in the day yesterday said it was "weird" for Vonn to be chosen for the Swimsuit Issue and the cover of SI last week when she has yet to win an Olympic medal. Mancuso said, "It was disappointing ... when I won my gold medal in Turin, I didn't get a lot of press. I didn't get the cover of SI." Mancuso added, "The attitude of our team is that everyone should be promoted. So, yeah, it's a little disappointing" (L.A. TIMES, 2/11).

STRIKE A POSE: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes the "state of women's athletics in America is such that while success is based on ability, popularity is based on beauty." It is the "same at the Olympics, where the only women here who are guaranteed popularity are the ones who compete while wearing dresses." Vonn, with "10 sponsors to feed, posed for the photos because it was good business." A woman who could "potentially be the Winter Olympics' most decorated athlete will also be its most Googled, by folks who care nothing about her athleticism and everything about her breasts." Plaschke: "You do it even though hanging out half-naked on pages with skimpy models trivializes your strength and skill. You do it even though offering up your body as an object for male consumption is diametrically opposed to the female empowerment symbolized by your sport" (L.A. TIMES, 2/11). In Denver, Mark Kiszla notes on this "crazy, mixed-up, Google earth, being a sex symbol pays way better." Mancuso is "exploiting a return trip to the Games to launch a line of lingerie she designed." Kiszla: "On the playing field in the battle of the sexes, the war has only just begun. From Madison Avenue to a playground in Peoria, Ill., we are not truly ready to take the athletic achievements of women seriously" (DENVER POST, 2/11). N.Y. Times columnist Harvey Araton writes, "Sorry, Lindsey Vonn posing for SI in bikini doesn't help women's sports. … Because that's all SI ever wants from female athletes, a flirty pose" (, 2/11).

DOES PERFORMANCE MATTER? In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes with Vonn's Olympic participation in question due to a shin injury, if "this all turns into a bust, then Vonn will have to understand that she brought some of this on herself." She has "more than embraced the opportunity," and has "come very close to exploiting it." Bondy: "You don't pose the pose, if you can't ski the slope" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/11). Vonn arrived in Vancouver earlier this week "like a rock star," as she was "greeted by a swarm of paparazzi, press and fans" ("Access Hollywood," 2/11). But also in N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes Vonn "will emerge from these Olympics with a sizable Q rating no matter what happens." She "won't have to worry about paying the electric bill or the rent even if a shin injury keeps her from ever competing over the next few weeks" (N.Y. POST, 2/11). In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan notes Vonn is "among this Olympic cycle's pre-packaged Olympic heroes, a product of marketing and hype and image consultants as well as athletic ability, training and coaches." It used to be that the Games "produced stars who cashed in with endorsement deals," but now companies "eager to identify with promising athletes produce the stars and the Games either make or break them" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/11).

TAKING A STAB AT ACTING: Vonn after the Games hopes to "achieve the second biggest goal in her life: appearing in an episode" of NBC's "Law & Order." Vonn said, "I am obsessed with the show. I'll play a stiff on a mortuary slab, I don't care" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/11).

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