Monday June 13th, 2016

In this week's edition of Extreme Exposure—a weekly column featuring news and photography from the world of action and outdoor sports—Lindsey Vonn wants to ski against the men and Rachel Atherton wins her 10th World Cup Downhilll event in a row.

Red Bull Cape Fear Causes Dust-up with WSL

The impact of last week’s Red Bull Cape Fear event—won by 18-year-old phenom Russell Bierke—was felt far and wide, and not just by the athletes who were sent to the emergency room following dangerous waves near Sydney, Australia, known locally as “Ours.”

Prior to the event the WSL reportedly sent out a note reminding big wave athletes that they aren’t allowed to compete on non-sanctioned events. The WSL owns the Big Wave World Tour. Hard to blame the WSL as they want (and need) exclusivity on the best product and the best athletes in the sport, but the ultimatum didn’t sit well with many of the hellman who surf for a fraction of the prize money that Championship Tour competitors like Kelly Slater and John John Florence compete for. Often, the Big Wave World Tour will only hold three events at most because of conditions.

“Well done ‪#redbullcapefear!” wrote Mark Healey on his Twitter feed. Healey surfs on the Big Wave World Tour and wasn’t allowed to surf in the Red Bull contest. “We gotta keep diversity in big wave surfing. No monopolies until the surfers get paid what they're worth!”

The Red Bull event certainly opened up some old wounds. Big wave surfers often nickel and dime their way through the big wave schedule with little margin for error if an event is cancelled or rescheduled. Many of the best in the world work on slim budgets, holding jobs that allow them to drop everything and leave on a moment’s notice. And the economics simply don’t work. “We should be able to try and surf wherever we can,” Albee Layer, one of the world’s most progressive surfers in large waves told Stab magazine. “More than half the guys on the BWWT aren’t sponsored. They can barely afford to do it. There’s not enough money in it for anyone to dictate what we do when the BWWT events aren’t on. It’s not really fair… for the guys on the CT it’s a good rule, but something needs to change for the Big Wave Tour. For us, they can go a whole year without running an event; that’s not a career. If you won every event of the year (on the BWWT), you’d still make less money than someone who places last every (event) on the CT.”

Won't be forgetting this one anytime soon! @owenphoto #redbullcapefear

A photo posted by Russell Bierke (@russellbierke) on


Lindsey Vonn Wants to Ski Against the Men

Former U.S. women’s soccer icon Abby Wambach came out firing in her debut podcast on ESPN. And alpine skiing star Lindsey Vonn helped make the first show that much better. The legendary racer who has 16 titles in individual World Cup disciplines, more than any other racer, male or female, says she wants to race three more years. The first two so she can compete in the 2018 Olympics. And the third so she can compete against the men.

“In my final season, I would like to race against the men in one race,” Vonn said in the interview. “We’ve started the process of trying to figure out how [racing against men] can be accomplished. It’s going to be definitely a hard thing to get done with all the ski federations and everything involved, but that’s my goal. … I’m hoping by like three years I could probably figure out how to accomplish that, fingers crossed.”

Vonn was seeking a fifth overall World Cup title last year before suffering a season-ending crash in Andorra. Other women in other sports have lobbied to compete against the men, like golfer Michelle Wie. But arguably none of them were as accomplished as Vonn, one of the most decorated skiers in history.

Today I am making the difficult decision to end my season and leave the World Cup circuit due to an injury I suffered last Saturday. Because I am currently leading the Overall World Cup standings, this is one of the toughest decisions of my career. When I crashed on Saturday in Andorra, I fractured my tibial plateau. The traditional X-rays that were taken that afternoon showed a hairline fracture, but the tibial plateau appeared to be stable and did not pose significant risk to competing. So I raced on Sunday. After the Super Combined on Sunday, I went to Barcelona where more precise MRI and CT equipment was available and scans were performed on Tuesday morning. Those images showed that there was not just 1 hairline fracture, but in fact 3. And the fractures are not hairline, but instead they are significant enough that they are not sufficiently stable to permit me to safely continue skiing. Further damage any of the fragments could result in a serious surgery that would risk my future in ski racing. With the World Championships in St. Moritz next year and the Winter Olympics in South Korea the following year, I cannot take that risk. So I have made the decision to end my season. I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish this year: 9 World Cup victories, breaking the World Cup downhill win record, breaking the World Cup Super G podium record, and winning the most World Cup discipline titles--20--of any skier, male or female. While I am confident that I'm making the right decision, it still doesn't make this decision any easier. Thanks to everyone who supported me and stood by me through it all. Best of luck to all the World Cup competitors. I'll see you again next year. Xo LV

A photo posted by Lindsey Vonn (@lindseyvonn) on


Rachel Atherton Notches 10th Consecutive Victory

Rachel Atherton, the best women’s downhill racer in history, won a record 10th world cup event in a row at the Leogang downhill mountain bike race in Austria this weekend, a dominance not seen in the sport before. Atherton, from Salisbury in the U.K., is 28 and now has 30 world cup victories.

Meanwhile, California’s Aaron Gwin nabbed his second world cup victory of the season at Leogang, an event he won last year without a chain (it broke mid ride). Going chainless last year must have helped him this go-around as he came back from a one second deficit in exciting fashion in Europe.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.