Vonn starts Olympic campaign in Val d'Isere
LINDSEY Vonn will use the World Championships as a practice run for next year's Winter Olympics - an event she admits will be career-defining.
CHALLENGE: Lindsey Vonn must translate World Cup form into medals at major championships - starting at this week's Worlds in Val d'Isere (Getty Images)
Vonn, the reigning overall World Cup champion, has yet to win a gold medal at a major championship.
At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake she managed a best result of sixth in the slalom while four years later in Turin, she was hospitalised after bruising her hip during training for the downhill.
She bravely returned to compete but could only finish eighth.
The 24-year old American earned her first major medals with silver in both downhill and Super-G at the 2007 World Championships in Åre and arrives in Val d'Isere determined to finally top the podium.
"I feel like these world championships are going to be more of a trial run for the Olympics," said Vonn, who prepared for Tuesday's championship opening Super-G with two World Cup wins in Garmisch.
"Hopefully it will go well, but it's not going to be the end of my life if I don't win a gold, but it's definitely my goal.
"Each year I feel like the pressure becomes more and more. The better you ski, the more things you have to do, and more people expect you to do well, and that becomes challenging."
However, she acknowledges the pressure is going to build with the year to go anniversary to Vancouver inching closer.
American team-mate Bode Miller imploded under the weight of national expectation in Turin - something Vonn witnessed first hand and is determined to learn from.
"It got really intense for Bode in Turin," she recalled.
"It's really hard to handle. I feel like the more I do it, the better I become, but I'd be lying if I said it was easy.
"It's always difficult and there's always going to be expectations, especially with the Olympics. It's one moment, you have one chance to succeed, and if you don't then you have to wait four years.
"But I'm learning each day, learning from the world championships, learning from the World Cup, learning from just dealing with everything. It's going to make it somewhat easier because I'll know what it's going to be like."