Vonn, 33, appears to have been barraged after tweeting about her sixth-place finish Saturday afternoon in women’s Super-G in the mountains of Pyeongchang. (The race aired Friday night stateside.)
“Frustrating to be so close to the podium and to have made such a big mistake…but that’s ski racing,” she wrote later Saturday, adding, “I’m proud of the way I skied and how I attacked the course. I gave it my all and came up short. That’s life. Now it’s on to the Downhill!”
That’s when thousands of replies came pouring in, some criticizing Vonn for her opinions off the snow — while others criticized those criticizing Vonn.
In December she told CNN she “hope[s] to represent the people of the United States, not the president.”
“I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony,” Vonn told CNN. “And I want to represent our country well and I don’t think there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”
She said that she would “absolutely not” go to the White House after competing. Fellow Team USAers Nathan Chen, Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon have also said they would not attend, according to USA Today.
After Vonn’s loss this weekend — which marked her return to the Olympics eight years after two medal wins in ski racing — some social media users crowed at her defeat.
“Your president was watching,” wrote one user in a characteristic reply. “You let him down. Karma.”
More messages followed, all touched off by Vonn’s initial tweet about her frustration and pride.
“I just spent last 20 min’s reading thru tweets directed at [Vonn],” ESPN analyst and retired Olympic gold medal soccer player Julie Foudy soon tweeted. “Sickened & disgusted once again by the lack of humanity that engulfs our country. She just raced her damn heart out & Trump supporters gloat/cheer/celebrate her inability to medal. Is this what we’ve become?
In an Instagram post in mid-December, Vonn expanded on her comments to CNN, writing in part: “The point that I was trying to articulate is that all Olympic athletes represent their nation as a whole, and are not representatives of their government or any specific political figure or party.”
“The Olympics are a non-political event, a chance for everyone to put aside their differences and be on the same team.’ … I am proud to be an American, and I want our country to continue to be a symbol of hope, compassion, inclusion and world unity,” she wrote. “My travels around the world have recently made clear that this is no longer how people view the United States.”
On Saturday, Vonn retweeted Foudy’s message and responded: “It’s ok Julie. Not everyone has to like me but my family loves me and I sleep well at night. I work hard and try to be the best person I can be. If they don’t like me their loss I guess… Thank you for the support.”
A few hours later, in a new tweet, Vonn wrote: “Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to become better. Goodnight.”
Vonn will next compete in the women’s alpine downhill event, where she earned gold at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.