Olympian Lindsey Vonn has been public in her criticism of President Donald Trump, and that’s led to a flurry of online criticism against Vonn that she’s spoken out about on Twitter.
When Vonn didn’t make the podium on Saturday in South Korea, her critics pounced. Vonn responded on Twitter, “Frustrating to be so close to the podium and to have made such a big mistake…but that’s ski racing. I’m proud of the way I skied and how I attacked the course. I gave it my all and came up short. That’s life. Now it’s on to the Downhill! 💪🏻”
The responses in the thread were not kind, with many referencing Vonn’s past criticism of Trump. “I think it was karma…” wrote one critic in the thread. Wrote another writer, “Alas, poor Lindsey. Once a highly-respected, world-class skier decided that her political views were more important than her skiing. Too bad that half of America will now remember her for her mouth rather than her skis. Maybe shoulda sought counsel from Meryl or Jane. Pitiful!”
Another wrote, “Maybe you should have focused on your sport more instead of foolishly bashing our American President right before the Olympics…” Vonn didn’t perform as she wanted on February 20, either, and she showed emotion, breaking into tears, as she was knocked out of the position for a gold and silver medal.
What did Lindsey Vonn say about Donald Trump that had his supporters so upset? The most controversial comments came in an interview that Vonn gave to CNN in December 2017. The headline on the December 7, 2017 CNN story cuts right to the chase. “Lindsey Vonn: I won’t be representing US President at Winter Olympics,” it blared.
Vonn told CNN, “I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”
Lindsey Vonn took another swipe at Trump to CNN, when she said that she wouldn’t go to the White House if she wins a gold medal in PyeongChang. “Absolutely not,” said Vonn to the cable news network. “No. But I have to win to be invited. No actually I think every US team member is invited so no I won’t go.”
According to National Review, “Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn is a liberal. That’s why it was easy this week for a CNN interviewer to steer the skier into a comment dismissive of President Trump.”
The conservative site Breitbart wrote, “Though Vonn traveled to the White House several times during Barack Obama’s presidency, including a visit accompanying then-boyfriend Tiger Woods to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2014, do not expect her to accept Donald Trump’s congratulations in-person after the 2018 games.”
After the CNN comments sparked a firestorm, Vonn posted a lengthy explanation on Instagram:
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 then stood by her comments more directly, sparking more ire among those who support Trump. “I was asked my opinion and I gave it. I mean, it’s not necessarily my place to be sticking my nose in politics, but as an athlete, I do have a voice,” she said.
According to CBS, Lindsey said she tried to tune out the social media chatter. “Definitely, before the race I don’t go on social media. I may post something, but I don’t look at anything,” Vonn said February 19. “But I always try to remember that it’s people talking behind the computer and they’re going to say anything.”
Vonn added for good measure, according to CBS: “There’s, of course, going to be people that hate me and hope I ski off a cliff and die. But that’s fine. I’m not going to do that. And you know, I just take it for what it is. At some point, you have to laugh and say it’s just completely ridiculous.”
Trump supporters pounced when Vonn didn’t perform as expected. Some defended Vonn, however. Wrote one fan in her defense on Twitter, “How does she hate the US? She voiced her opinion on how poor our @POTUS is. Just because she disagrees with @realDonaldTrump and his awful ways does not mean she hates the US. Did you ever disagree with Obama? I did, but I still love this country. Did you ever question Obama???”
For her part, Vonn also equated the online criticism to bullying. “That is what bullies want you to do. They want to defeat you and I am not defeated, I am the same. I stand by my values and I am not going to back down. I may not be as vocal right now with my opinions but that doesn’t mean they have won. I haven’t changed my mind,” she said.