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For Lindsey Vonn and Shani Davis, a championship season continues apace

March 7, 2010 |  3:45 pm


I know it's not an exact analogy, but imagine winning the World Series and then going back to make up some regular-season rainouts.

That's what Olympic champions like Lindsey Vonn and Shani Davis are doing.

And that's what makes the way they are doing it even more impressive.

World Cup seasons in several Olympic sports resumed a week after the torch went out in Vancouver, Canada.

Alpine skiing downhill gold medalist Vonn and speedskating 1,000-meter gold medalist Davis picked up right where each had left off.

Vonn won Saturday's World Cup downhill in Crans Montana, Switzerland, her 10th win on the circuit this winter, which set a U.S. single-season record and tied her with Bode Miller for most career victories (32) by a U.S. skier. She also finished second in Sunday's super-G.

(Julia Mancuso, surprise double medalist at the Olympics, was third in the super-G, the first podium finish in the last two seasons by a U.S. woman other than Vonn.)


Davis, meanwhile, won both 1,000-meter races at the World Cup in Erfurt, Germany. He is six for six at that distance this season.

Both Vonn and Davis have World Cup finals on tap this week.

A few other post-Olympic matters:

-- Barring a change of plans, Kim Yuna of South Korea will be the first newly minted women's figure skating gold medalist to compete at the ensuing world championships since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. 

And Kim's celebrity has reached even higher levels in South Korea, to the point that heads of major corporations are using her as the exemplar of success, according to the Korea Times.

In its Sunday edition, the newspaper quoted Korea National Oil Corp. Chief Executive Kang Young-won exhorting his employees by citing Kim:

"We have watched Kim jump toward perfectionism despite heaving burdens on her slender shoulders," Kang said. "We are now in a transitional period for growth just like she was.

"By achieving the capability of producing 500,000 barrels of oil and providing a million barrels a day, we need to become as beloved here as Kim did."

 -- Kudos to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun for a sharp analysis in his column Tuesday, in which he cited skeleton racer Jon Montgomery's victory celebration a week after the opening ceremony as the turning point in the way Canada embraced its athletes. As Montgomery walked through Whistler Village to a TV interview, he drank from a pitcher of beer handed to him and high-fived fans along the way: the Olympic champion as Canadian Everyman.

"Either he was one of us or we were lots of him," MacIntyre wrote, "but the distinction between athletes and fans was dissolved and the Games at that moment became about all of us."


-- I wish I had my tape recorder running at Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette's news conference after her bronze medal performance. Of all the things Rochette had done in the five days after mother's unexpected death of a heart attack, the way she described the relationship between her and her mother moved me the most.

Therese Rochette had been constantly supportive and constantly demanding in regards to Joannie's efforts, both in school and at the rink. There was bound to be some friction between mother and daughter, so closely were they bound together, and the honesty with which Joannie described it made everyone in the room laugh and choke up at the same time.

"Even though she's not here anymore, I'm not afraid to say it: She was a pain in the ass sometimes," Rochette said of her mother.

One can only hope Rochette's ability to remember her mother like that, with all the dimensions of a real person rather than an idealized figure, has helped her get through the pain that must have set in not long after the Olympics ended.

Before they buried Therese Rochette on Thursday in her hometown of Berthierville, Joannie placed her bronze medal on the coffin lid, a gesture, wrote Bernard Barbeau of Canadian Press, that was "a way of sharing it" with her mother. 

-- Philip Hersh

Photos: Top, Shani Davis waves after winning the 1,000 meters Sunday at Erfurt, Germany. Credit: Jens Meyer / Associated Press . Middle, Lindsey Vonn is No. 1 again in Saturday's downhill at Crans Montana, Switzerland. Credit: Oliver Maire / Associated Press. Bottom, Joannie Rochette at her mother's funeral Thursday in Berthierville, Canada. Credit: Graham Hughes / Associated Press.