TODAY

TODAY   |  October 28, 2013

Lindsey Vonn: Tiger Woods teaches me ‘patience’

American skier Lindsey Vonn is going full speed ahead on her journey to the Winter Olympics in Sochi despite a terrible crash last February. She tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that even though she’s only been back on the slopes for a few days, her knee feels great, and reveals that boyfriend Tiger Woods has taught her patience through her recovery.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the mesh hammock works.

>> for 100 bucks, should you get a fly.

>>> coming up, beatles fans from a nearly 50-year-old photo that ring ringo starr took reunited.

>>> but first, lindsey vonn is heading back to competition following a terrible crash, but a remarkable recovery. she says that it is full speed ahead to the road to sochi .

>> morning.

>> reporter: in early september, lindsey vonn clicked back into her skis for the first time in months. joining the u.s. ski team summer training. a significant moment for the skiing phenom who spent six months recovering from knee surgery following a terrible crash last fesh at tbruary at the world championships .

>> vonn taking her trip off the track.

>> reporter: whether she would compete again was never a question for vonn. her rop pid recovery surprised even her doctors.

>> by all accounts it's been pretty remarkable.

>> reporter: this was not her first major crash, not her first comeback. her intense fighting spirit has not only made her a fan favorite, but the most accomplished american clear of all-time with olympic gold , four overall world titles and 59 world cup wins.

>> first couple gates are really open.

>> reporter: with a string of lucrative endorsements, lindsay oig is a marketer's dream and as one-half of a sports power couple, she's the subject of intense media attention. but her focus is on competition.

>> my knee feels great. so it's a huge step.

>> reporter: for now, the world waits for to see what lindsey does next. it's these to see you again. i have a confession to make. i doubted you. we were together just a couple weeks after the accident and you said i will be back in november. i will be at the olympics. all good. and i thought she's being naive. i really did.

>> that's a little harsh.

>> no, but i thought -- i looked at the knee. you showed to me and i thought how is anyone going to get back that quickly.

>> i work hard. that's what i do. i fall, i get back up. it's who i am. obviously this is the biggest setback i've ever had, but i'm skiing really well. only been on snow for a few days, but i'm already almost right back where i was. so things are looking up.

>> what does it feel like when you get back on snow mentally and physically?

>> it feels good. i've been waiting forget back on snow for many months now. so going to chile was really exciting. definitely got my enthusiasm back up. when you've been doing it for so long and you're always training, training, training. kind of nice to have a little bit of a break, but i enjoyed it. my knee feels great. i literally, i can't tell which one is injured.

>> but when you put a little pressure on the front of the boots and the speed picks up, no trepidation at all?

>> no.

>> is that just who you are?

>> yeah. i'm kind of weird. you have to be crazy to be a downhill ski racer. but --

>> there is always -- i think full disclosure , we've known each other for a pretty long time and there has always been one line of questioning that you bristle at. i've said you are the most accomplished american skier in history. why not just relax and accept that. and even rest on your resume. you also fire back, but is that feeling of not wanting to rest what's got you back so quickly?

>> definitely. i don't want that to be the final moment of my career. obviously i could have retired and i have a lot to be proud of, but there is a lot more i want to do. sochi is obviously a huge goal of mine. so he had plenty of motivation. i wasn't going sit there and accept what i had already done.

>> we look forward to seeing you back on the ski slope , but we have seen you on some golf courses around the world. obviously there for tiger. and that's another line of questioning you don't love. but you are two extremely driven elite athletes. have you learned anything from tiger either about mental preparation or physical preparation that you've now adopted?

>> definitely. patience. i'm not a very patient person.

>> he doesn't seem like a very patient person to me either.

>> no he is. he's very patient. and he's very mentally tough. and he's a grinder. he works extremely hard. and he's obviously also had an acl injury , as well, had the same surgery. so he knew what i was going through and he said just be patient, keep working hard and everything will turn around. and it really helped me get through it. it's tough. you're sitting there grinding away in the gym and it's like is this ever going to end, am i ever going to get back on the slopes.

>> nice to have someone in your life who understands the perspective.

>> exactly.

>> you also share the situation of balancing sport and business. sponsorships. you're here for p&g i should mention. how do you find that balancing act? because the sponsorship is so important to your career, as well.

>> it's really important. it's tough to balance everything, but i'm lucky that i have such great sponsors. being a part of the p&g family and representing great brands like cover girl, pantene and olay is amazing. and they support not just me, but my mother. a lot of times they just want your name on the billboard. but p&g is a company that is thanking my mother, which she deserves.

>> and we'll do a little more of that with you and other olympic athletes in a second. will you be on the medal stand in sochi ?

>> you better believe it. better not doubt me.

>> now i do. great to have you back. and she'll be back with her mom and other moms in just a little while. and then tomorrow on "today," we'll mark the 100 day countdown to