Lindsey Vonn responds to backlash after anti-Trump comments

Kevin Kaduk
Fourth-Place Medal

Star skier Lindsey Vonn attracted plenty of attention last week when she said she wouldn’t visit the White House after the Olympics. She also said she hoped to “represent the people of the United States, not the president” when the Winter Games kick off in PyeongChang in February.

The comments from America’s biggest winter sports star kicked off a wave of criticism from those on the right including Fox News and Tomi Lahren. They intensified over the weekend after Vonn suffered a mild back injury at a World Cup event in Switzerland. Vonn’s social media accounts quickly filled with comments saying she deserved the injury after the remarks she’d made to CNN’s “Inside Edge.”

Vonn responded to all the criticism with an Instagram post on Tuesday morning

But while Vonn attempted to clarify her stance that the Olympics are supposed to be, at least in theory, a non-political event, she also made it clear she won’t shy away from exercising her right as an American to “express our opinions openly.”

Though she never addresses the president or his actions directly, Vonn doesn’t leave any doubt where she stands.

“I am proud to be an American, and I want our country to continue to be a symbol of hope, compassion, inclusion and world unity,” she wrote on Instagram. “My travels around the world have recently made clear that this is no longer how people view the United States. You cannot pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV in Europe without noticing how people are questioning our direction. It seems to me that we must lead with understanding and strive for unity in our relationships throughout the world.”

And, perhaps not coincidentally, Vonn concluded her post with a reference to American being a “shining city on a hill,” one of the most-remembered lines from Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Here’s the entire text from her Instagram post:

As I head to France for the next races, I would like to share with you my reflections from the past few days.

I’ve received a tremendous amount of feedback, both positive and negative, about my recent CNN interview. The point that I was trying to articulate is that all Olympic athletes represent their nation as a whole, and are not representatives of their government or any specific political figure or party. None of us work tirelessly for years on end to compete in the Olympics on behalf of Democrats or Republicans. The Olympics are a non-political event, a chance for everyone to put aside their differences and be on the same “team.”. That does not mean that Olympic athletes don’t have political opinions. As an American, I am extremely proud that our great nation was founded on principals and ideals where citizens can express our opinions openly. It is a privilege that some others around the world don’t have.

I am proud to be an American, and I want our country to continue to be a symbol of hope, compassion, inclusion and world unity. My travels around the world have recently made clear that this is no longer how people view the United States. You cannot pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV in Europe without noticing how people are questioning our direction. It seems to me that we must lead with understanding and strive for unity in our relationships throughout the world.

As for myself, my recent comments opened up my eyes as to how divided we are right now. It is hurtful to read comments where people are hoping I break my neck or that God is punishing me for being “anti-Trump.” We need to find a way to put aside our differences and find common ground in communicating. Is it wrong to hope for a better world?

All of this is much bigger than skiing and the Olympics. I am going to take the next two months to focus on what I can do and right now that is competing for my country. In doing that, I will be hoping that we Americans can still be that “shining city on a hill.”

Vonn won the gold medal in the women’s downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Games before missing the 2014 Games in Sochi with a knee injury. It is believed the 2018 Games will be her last Olympics.

Lindsey Vonn wishes to represent her nation “as a whole.” (Reuters)
Lindsey Vonn wishes to represent her nation “as a whole.” (Reuters)

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