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Behind the scenes of the women's Olympic downhill

February 17, 2010 | 10:25 am

Vonn2

The women's downhill is definitely on for this morning, an 11 a.m. start. Lindsey Vonn drew the No. 16 bib, while teammate and rival Julia Mancuso is running No. 10.

Colleague David Leon Moore of USA Today did the course inspection this morning and said the downhill track is fast, but still pretty bumpy -- not what Vonn wanted to hear with her sore right shin.

I attended a Red Bull function Tuesday night in Whistler Creekside that hosted Lindsey's support team, family and a few journalists.

Her mom, Linda Krohn, entered wearing a Norwegian scarf someone had given her in the village. Lindsey is half Norwegian, on her dad's side.

I asked Linda if she was nervous on the eve of the women's downhill.

"No," she said. "I pray a lot."

It was very interesting listening to the "Vonn Tech" team talk about preparations. Heinz Haemmerle, an Austrian, is Lindsey's ski technician and the man in charge of making sure her skis are fast. People just don't realize how important it is to have the right wax for the conditions.

Haemmerle is a fidgety type, a chain smoker, and was nervous on the eve of Lindsey's race. He needs to gauge the wax based on the conditions of the course, and he needs to get it right.

Also chatted with the support team provided to Lindsey by Red Bull, the Austrian power drink company, and Vonn's sponsor.

Martin Hager is Lindsey's physical trainer, handling her workout schedule year-round. Oliver Saringer is the physiotherapist. He's the guy who employed the "cheese therapy" on Vonn's right shin this week.

No one has more emotional, physical and financial support at these Olympics than Lindsey Vonn.

No one was really sure how Lindsey's shin would hold up in the downhill, but they had done everything they could.

It was time to race.

-- Chris Dufresne, in Whistler

Photo: Lindsey Vonn talks with her husband, Thomas Vonn, after training for the Alpine skiing women's downhill at Whistler Creekside on Tuesday. The women's downhill final is scheduled for today. Credit: Clive Rose / Getty Images
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