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Lindsey Vonn is the first to admit she's supercompetitive, whether she's bowling with her husband, Thomas Vonn, or racing down a ski slope. "I like to win," she says, and clearly that attitude is working for her. At 26, Lindsey is at the top of her sport. Her life is a whirlwind: She's on the road 49 weeks a year for training and competitions. She walks the red carpet at movie premieres, and she appeared on Law & Order, her favorite show. Through it all, Thomas, a former pro skier, is by her side. "I keep in touch with the rest of my family through Skype or Facebook," Lindsey says. "They are my biggest motivators." Lindsey credits family with keeping her grounded during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Pundits touted her as America's great hope to win five medals. Naysayers thought she might choke. Then there was the reported rivalry between Lindsey and teammate Julia Mancuso -- and Lindsey's severe shin injury. Yet she triumphed to win gold in the downhill and bronze in the super-G. Lindsey recently gave us the scoop on the year's wild ride.
How did you handle the media circus at the Olympics?
I'd heard the Michael Phelps-like expectations, so I just shut myself off from all the hype. I didn't watch TV; I didn't look at magazines or newspapers. I had to pretend it wasn't the Olympics but just another race in Vancouver. Otherwise I would have psyched myself out.
Is there really a rivalry between you and Julia Mancuso?
When I'm in the starting gate, I want to win. I'm not saying that I want to beat one particular person; I just want to win. With women the media tends to blow things out of proportion and make it personal, when we're really just competing.
What was it like to get a gold medal?
Winning the downhill -- my favorite event -- will always stand out for me for the rest of my life. Finally accomplishing something you've been dreaming about since you were a little kid is just beyond words.
You've won an Olympic gold and your husband hasn't. Does that bother him?
No! We're each other's biggest cheerleaders. He supports me 100 percent. We're opposites that attract; every cliche you can think of is true when it comes to us. I'm the emotional, spontaneous one who listens to my heart, and he's logical and focuses on the details.
Is it true that Thomas gives you fashion advice?
I ask his opinion about everything. On the mountain, I ask, "Am I doing this correctly? Was that run good?" I'll also ask him, "Do you like this dress for the red-carpet event? Do you like my hair?" He's always right. Even if there's something I think is supertrendy and cute, he'll say, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." He's a pretty good stylist.
Do the two of you work out together?
Thomas doesn't want to work out with me ever. We're too competitive. If we're side by side on the treadmill, I'll be checking his speed. I can't help myself. He's like, "What are you doing?" I say, "I'm going faster than you!"
Is there any sport you're not good at?
I'm pretty bad at surfing. Things in water tend not to go so well for me. I sink like a rock. I think it's because of my big butt.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I'm really clumsy. I stumble a lot, stub my toe, drop my phone. My husband jokes that I'm safer on the slopes than I am off!
You wear makeup when you ski. Is that part of your routine?
I feel more confident when I wear it, and I think that comes across in my skiing. If you look good, you feel good.
What's workout heaven to you?
I love anything on a stability ball. It's more like play to me, because I can be creative and come up with different ways to exercise. I love working out my core, because I'm not only getting stronger but looking better, too.
What are your go-to healthy foods?
I love salmon, fruits, and nuts. But I'm originally from Minnesota, so deep down I'm still a steak-and-potatoes kind of girl -- even though I don't eat potatoes these days. I also stay away from processed carbs as much as possible because they're hard for the body to digest. But I do let myself cheat once a week. The hardest things for me to resist are sweets, like banana bread and French toast. I love to bake. In last winter's Olympics, I baked about 21 loaves of banana bread to keep myself relaxed.
What do you do to have fun?
I hang out with friends. I like getting a cup of coffee and going to the movies and being mellow and relaxed. I also play Kinect, a dance game on the Xbox 360. I dance around and have a great time, but I probably look like a dork.
How long do you think you'll keep skiing?
In 2015 the world championships will be in my hometown of Vail, Colorado. So I'm going to try to do well for the crowd. Maybe after that I'll retire and have four kids. I want to be a stay-at-home mom who bakes cookies and is there for her children.
When are you happiest?
When I'm with my family, preferably while skiing. I love being out on the mountain and feeling the wind against my face mixed with the adrenaline of going fast. At that moment it doesn't matter what else is going on in my life. All the chaos stops.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2011.