Vonn claims rivalry doesn’t effect friendship with Riesch

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Lindsey Vonn would like to set the record straight on her friendship and rivalry with Maria Riesch before their showdown at the world championships in Riesch’s hometown.

“We are just as good friends as ever. This year is no different from others,” Vonn told the Associated Press a few days before the start of the championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Vonn referred to “interesting media stories” reporting problems in their friendship.

“That’s a bunch of crap. Sometimes we have good days, sometimes we have bad days, that’s our job,” she said. “We are still good friends. The bottom line is that our friendship is not going to change whether we win or lose a race. I am just trying to win races and she’s doing the same, it’s hard because we are trying to win the same titles.”

Vonn is a three-time defending overall World Cup champion but she is behind Riesch this season in the standings, and some people believe a rift has developed between them.

“It’s really frustrating for me that they take things out of context,” Vonn said. “We are bound more by our friendship than our competitiveness, in the World Cup at least. I enjoy competing against her, she is always gracious. I am not motivated by trying to beat Maria.

“It makes it more interesting that no one believes we can be competitive and good friends but that’s our story and I think it’s a good story.”

Riesch last week reportedly described their relationship as “somewhat different now” that she is more successful and suggested that Vonn was not a gracious loser.

“It wasn’t always easy for me in the last years, but I never let anything show when she was better. I wish she would do the same now,” Riesch was quoted as saying.

Vonn finds herself on familiar ground in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

She has spent Christmas holidays at the Riesch family home, she is a well-recognized and popular face on the streets of the winter resorts that it’s almost like a second home for the American. She will return after the season is over to attend Riesch’s wedding.

Vonn and Riesch also competed against each at the World Cup finals last year in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, with Vonn winning the super-G and finishing second to Riesch in the downhill.

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