By Andrew Both
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Illinois (Reuters) – Women’s alpine skiing champion Lindsey Vonn would like to race against men, she said on Wednesday at the Women’s Leadership Summit at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Vonn said she had long wanted to test herself against her male counterparts.
“I feel like having trained with the men a significant amount over the last few years and being competitive with them almost every single day, I feel like I need that opportunity as an athlete to be able to be able to see what my true potential is,” she said.
Vonn’s comments come in the wake of tennis great John McEnroe’s recent remark that 23-times grand slam singles winner Serena Williams would be ranked about 700th if she played on the men’s tennis circuit.
Vonn, 32, the 2010 Olympic women’s downhill champion, has won a record 77 World Cup races during her career.
The American skier said it was proving difficult to organize an official race against men, which meant an exhibition might be the vehicle to test herself.
“My coaches had meetings with the International Ski Federation this spring and they said it would be very difficult to accomplish,” Vonn said.
“But if we get blocked out in doing an official race, maybe there’s potential to have some sort of exhibition,” she added, invoking tennis great Billy Jean King’s famous ‘Battle of the Sexes’ clash with Bobby Riggs back in 1973.
Vonn said it was difficult to know exactly how she would fare against the world’s best men’s skiers.
“In women’s skiing and women’s tennis, we lack a certain physicality of (what) men do. Physical strength is not necessarily the same.
“Men definitely have that advantage but we have the advantage of grace and a certain amount of finesse that the men don’t always have, more tactics and a different approach. And sometimes in the long run that can end up being faster or better than what the men do.”
Vonn was also asked if she had spoken with her former boyfriend Tiger Woods since his arrest for driving while impaired in Florida in May.
“Not going to comment,” she said.
(Editing by Larry Fine)