Lindsey Vonn wouldn’t talk about the secret Tiger romance rumors with “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer, whose exclusive with the injured Olympic gold medalist aired Monday.
“Matt, I would like to keep my personal life private” is what Lauer said Vonn told him. “We respect that,” Lauer told TV viewers.
Who needs the words when TMZ gets the picture of a blonde on crutches boarding a plane that the website said was Tiger Woods’? “Proving he’s always got time to help out a hot blonde chick ... ,” TMZ reported that Woods supplied the transportation that flew Vonn from Austria, where she suffered a torn ACL and MCL, plus a bone fracture, during a devastating fall at the super-G World Championships.
All we need is a photo of Woods slipping into Vonn’s place in Vail (site of Lauer’s exclusive) to tell us what neither superstar athlete wants to yet.
Woods is the pathologically private one (for a reason), but if Vonn wants to show him that she’s up to being his designated woman friend, it was time she dispense better responses than the one she gave a local reporter who wanted to know, pre-injury, if Woods was scheduled to make an appearance in Austria.
“Oh, my God, I don’t know. You should ask him,” Vonn reportedly said. Smiles and giggles from Vonn reportedly ensued in response to a follow-up question.
Vonn was ready the next time she had to answer such questions. “I’m only two weeks out from the worst injury I’ve had in my career,” Vonn said in a conference call before the Lauer exclusive aired. “At this point, I’m not going to talk about my personal life.”
Let’s talk about her admitting she’s battled depression and how optimistic she is about competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“I’m curious why you came forward,” Lauer asked about the depression admission.
“I felt after my divorce [from former coach Thomas Vonn, whose name she is keeping], that was something I needed to get off my chest. I felt I needed to tell people about it to be able to move forward. One good thing about me talking about it is that other people don’t feel ashamed to talk about it.”
Vonn sounded downright cocky when discussing her return from this injury, the surgical wounds of which looked less swollen than I’d have expected.
“I have plenty of time to be ready for Sochi,” Vonn told Lauer.
“Do you really?” asked Lauer. “To hear you say that, it doesn’t seem like a lot of time. It’s a lot of time to Sochi, but you can’t just show up at Sochi and say, ‘OK. I’m ready to ski again.’ ”
Vonn sassily replied, “Says who? Honestly, in a worst-case scenario, if I trained a week before the Games, that’d be fine.”
Vonn hopes to get back on the slopes in November, to race in December, and not a week before the start of February 2014 Sochi Olympics, said Lauer.
Meanwhile, there’s rehabbing of that knee to be done. Vonn showed Lauer the place where screws and a pin were inserted to hold her ACL and MCL in place. The kneecap is moved around to prevent scarring or fluid under there. She is doing a one-hour rehab session on the knee twice a day, said Lauer, noting that her “upper body and core are not a problem” over video of her working the midsection.
Vonn told Lauer she was skiing 70 to 80 mph when her knee buckled near a pile of snow she said shouldn’t have been there. Lauer noted the alarming shriek that followed.
“I initially thought it was going to be worse. There was just so much pain, I couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from,” said Vonn, who found out the extent of her injuries “within five minutes” of getting to the hospital.
In addition to the romantic skulduggery and being elite athletes, the knee injury may be yet another point of bonding for Woods and Vonn, who told the Denver Post they met while her brother was giving skiing lessons to Tiger’s children with ex-wife Elin Nordegren.
In 2008, Woods had to rehab a knee injury that had him memorably wincing on the golf course. So Tiger knows how to rehab a knee while romancing the ladies, as he was in the throes of a double life that resulted in Nordegren’s divorcing Woods once the bimbos started erupting like nuisance gophers on a golf course.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”