Team USA OK with the picture Vonn provides

Posted: February 11, 2010

VANCOUVER - Lindsey Vonn is gorgeous, and proud to show it. Almost all of it.

Her teammates on the alpine team are proud of her, too.

They were prepared for questions about whether Vonn's extreme exposure in the Sports Illustrated magazine and Web site swimsuit editions demeaned womankind.

"I'll just answer that real quick," said Julia Mancuso. "There's nothing to hide. We're not models. We're all athletes. It's great to show off your athletic body."

Mancuso is famous for pioneering the trend of skin-flashing female athletes. Three years ago, Vonn, when asked about Mancuso's provocative poses, said she had no interest in soiling her wholesome image.

It's not that the SI magazine shot isn't wholesome, or that the 45 somewhat racier shots on the Web site are in poor taste.

They're just really, really hot.

"I'm trying the best I can to promote our sport," said Vonn, who also happens to be America's best chance for the most medals, if she competes.

In the eyes of her teammates, she's doing more than promoting ski racing. She's eroding the Barbie Doll ideal to which the standard swimsuit models adhere.

"I especially think it's great," chimed in Kaylin Richardson, unprompted. "For little girls to see a beautiful, athletic, strong, powerful female body in that magazine, among all their rail-thin models, I think is amazing."

Not to mention the residuals, Richardson said:

"Lindsey is going to have these pictures the rest of her life. And so, she can show her kids: 'Mom was super hot. And super fast.' "

And super bulletproof.

Vonn is married. Unlike Mancuso, she hasn't been photographed cupping another woman's augmented breasts in a hot tub. Unlike Mancuso, she has not used the Olympic stage to launch a lingerie line.

She isn't a sideshow. She's a star, with assets.

"We work hard on our bodies. That's something to celebrate," Richardson said. "Some people might say, 'You're objectifying your bodies.' I don't think that's true at all. I think it's a celebration. I'm totally behind it."

So are a lot of SI readers.

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