Why Lindsey Vonn Is ‘Going Against the Institution’ To Compete Against Men

lindsey vonn under armour
Lindsey Vonn unveils her "Unlike Any" campaign for Under Armour.
Courtesy of Under Armour

Updated, Dec. 10: Skiing champion and Under Armour athlete Lindsey Vonn injured her back on Saturday and pulled out of a race in St. Moritz. The Olympic champion, 33, aims to become the most successful ski racer of all time —and her injury came during her prep for the Winter Olympics in February. Vonn also made headlines this week for some politically-charged comments. She told CNN should would “absolutely not” visit the White House if invited after the Games. “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president,” she said during that interview.

Earlier this fall, Vonn unveiled her new Under Armour short film in Los Angeles and talked to FN about her future goals. She shared how she plans to be Unlike Any athlete around. “It’s a personal goal of mine to race against the men,” Vonn said. “If I can win against the women more than anyone else, why can’t I bring myself to the next level? Why I can’t compete against the best —against the men.”

Vonn submitted a proposal to the International Ski Federation (FIS), requesting special permission to compete against men. The Federation announced on Wednesday that it will review her proposal in May.

“Hopefully they’ll grant me permission to race one race with the men,” Vonn added. “It’s going against the institution.”

Among Vonn’s many accolades, the sports star has Olympic gold and bronze medals, two World Championship gold medals and four overall World Cup titles. According to Eurosport, Vonn’s 77 total World Cups are more than any other woman. The only person ahead of her record is held by men’s skiing athlete Ingemar Stenmark, who has 86.

“If I can win against the women more than anyone else, why can’t I bring myself to the next level? Why can’t I compete against the best?” Vonn said.

Vonn believes that a possible reason for not approving her request would be that it could ignite a lot of change that the sport’s tastemakers might not like. “The reason they think it wouldn’t work is because they think other women will want to do the same,” Vonn explained.

Of course, there are physical limitations across gender lines “as far as body weight and sheer strength” are concerned, Vonn said.

Still, women have some advantages on the slope over the opposite sex.  “Men definitely have more power than we do — that’s a physical fact,” Vonn said. “But women have more finesse and more touch on snow, some of those differences are made up by talent and finesse.”

Vonn’s “Unlike Any” film is Under Armour’s empowering series that has highlighted other female athletes on the brand’s roster, including Misty Copeland and Jessie Graff.

Watch the video below:

Pieces from Vonn’s apparel and footwear collection are available on underarmour.com.