Lindsey Vonn’s decision at the beginning of February 2019 to retire, four victories numerically short of Ingemar Stenmark’s 86 World Cup wins, gives rise to a debate: Which racer’s record is superior?

The World Cup of Alpine Skiing was originally created to honor all-round excellence in technical and speed competition. In that regard, Vonn did better than Stenmark. She won in all disciplines; Stenmark in only two. Yet for years the press has portrayed her in pursuit of Stenmark’s record.

Here are key statistics for the two. Let us know what you think by voting — and leaving a comment — below.


Submitted by Tocho Silva (not verified) on

Not a fair comparison. Stenmark is a technical skier exclusively. While Vonn is a mix, but mostly a speed technician. Got to go with more wins.

Submitted by Tony (not verified) on

Stenmark won and was on the podium per opportunity in his career than Lindsey Vonn did in hers.

Ski racing is the truest of sports, the clock separates the winners from the losers.

The same metrics should be used to judge who was the better of these two amazing athletes and people. Anything less is a disservice to both of them.

It is nice that Lindsey was third in her last race, but it is important to recall that Ingemar won his.

Submitted by RacerReady (not verified) on

Vonn she won in 5 events SL, GS, SG, DH and Combined. All 5 were available during Stenmarks career. He only won in SL and GS.

Submitted by Bob Donnelly (not verified) on

From 2004-2015 Vonn/Kildow won Lake Louise 17/34 starts including 4 SuperG's. It is the fastest women's speed track and the only one that is run on the complete men's track however it is arguably the easiest, ie. least technical. So the challenge level to Stenmark was more variable at a higher level with fewer total races/season. So the GOAT label as with any generalised category is subjective at best however I suggest Ingemar was more dominant in his time. At the same time I always thought her greatest achievement was winning 2 slaloms but it could never be argued that she dominated technical categories.

Submitted by John lutz (not verified) on

Now that is some choice. The best technical skier in history vs the most prolific, not to mention bravest, speed skier in history. I can’t believe that I could actually make a choice.

Submitted by Ken Gallard (not verified) on

While Stenmark was and is a legend and an incredible athlete, my own personal opinion always is colored by an all-round athlete. In that regard Lindsey's accomplishments are without peer--she has won in all disciplines and venues. World Cup, World Championships, Olympics, etc. A truly extraordinary feat.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Ingemar did his career without any public drama. SL and GS represent pure technical skiing beyond SG and DH. Lindsey is certainly tough as nails to come back from so many injuries. Stenmark loved/loves skiing. We won't be seeing Vonn out free-skiing for personal pleasure unless it's tied to a media related event.

Submitted by RacerReady (not verified) on

Ingemar avoided competing in DH (did it once) and Super G which was an alpine event since 1983 over six years of his career. Ingemar’s all time win record is impressive, but no mastery in all alpine events lacking.

Submitted by Howard Trachtenberg (not verified) on

A nonsense vote. Both are great champions in their own right and that is all the needs to be said.

Submitted by Seth Masia (not verified) on

Once you've already voted, the ballot options disappear from the page, so you won't vote twice.

Submitted by Emilio Trampuz (not verified) on

Ingemar Stenmark won more races in fewer years (just 16 years as compared to Lindsey Vonn's 19 years). Also, Stenmark's wins were in the more technical disciplines of Slalom and Giant Slalom. More technical means more proficient.
Lindsey Vonn had more courage to launch herself down the hill at death defying speeds. But she paid for it in the form of a greater number of injuries, such as broken bones, torn ligaments, and more.

Submitted by James M Graves (not verified) on

Stenmark never won a speed event

Submitted by 3-Pin on

They both are outstanding athletes but the nod goes to Ingemar. Lindsey competed across four disciplines but Ingemar didn't race in the speed events. He won all his races in the technical disciplines and in fewer seasons.

Submitted by Richard Kavey (not verified) on

When Stenmark competed there were only 3 events: DH, GS and SL, and far fewer races per year. Also, FIS repeatedly altered how the overall was scored to make it harder, or impossible, for Stenmark to win the overall. After the last such reconfiguration Stenmark dabbled briefly in downhill ending with a serious head injury and lengthy hospital stay.

Vonn and Stenmark are clearly the GOATS for their genders. It’s is clear that Maier might have challenged for this without his horrific motorcycle injury. I consider Maier’s overall victory following the motorcycle injuries the most remarkable single achiement in ANY sport.

So returning to the matter at hand, my vote for GOAT goes to Ingemar with Lindsey a 0.01 behind, and clear winner in speed.

Submitted by Bob Campbell (not verified) on

They were both fantastic athletes. It’s impossible to draw a definitive line. Both raced in different times . The ski technology and ability to customize skis to each individual strength. Hill grooming and snow was different. WasStenmark better because didn’t have the extensive crashes that Vonn had on the other hand was Vonn stronger because she was able to recover enough to win again and again.It seems certain Vonn would have had more wins than Stenmark had she not been so terribly injured. Back to the question was she not as good because she didn’t handle the situations that injured her? To sum up, both were exciting to watch and left a legacy to be proud of. Stenmark was a more technical racer had he raced more downhill might he have suffered some of the injuries that sidelined Vonn. Let’s call,it a dead heat and watch Michaela and Marcel continue thrilling us with the awe and wonder of gifted and highly skilled Ski racers.

Submitted by Bill Hayman (not verified) on

I cast my vote with an objection to the question. However, If the question is: who was the best ski racing competitor, then I can choose Lindasy. If the question is: who was the best skier ever to race, then Ingemar stands alone as the best skier.

Submitted by Heino Nowak (not verified) on

In Ingemar’s Time there was no SG to my knowledge. The Alpine nations thought it was a disgrace that a member of a non Alpine nation should run away with the overall World Cup and put obstacles in Ingemar’s way, which he overcame. He succeeded against the competition, like the Mahre brothers.

Submitted by barbara nelson (not verified) on

No comparison - different eras, different slopes and conditions, different training and probably less monies for the women. Lindsey competed across all events. Ingemar did not. They should stand alone in their own competition.

Submitted by Linda Meyers Ti... (not verified) on

Lindsey won in all disciplines. What more does it take to be considered the "greatest" ?

Submitted by Jeff Mayfield (not verified) on

Ingemar was incredible. So was Vonn. But, the DH simply carries more weight. It's do or (possibly) die, unlike slalom. And, Vonn won in all disciplines, whereas IS never won in DH or SG. We should sit back and say: IS was the best slalom skier (not for long with MIkaela), but Vonn, so far, is the best WC skier. Downhill is the main event.

Submitted by Slip and Slide (not verified) on

Both absolutely amazing. Equals, I can't say which get the nod. Uber Gods!

Submitted by Smith (not verified) on

I'm going with Lindsey simply because of the physical rigors of the disciplines she skied.

Submitted by Jimmy Petterson (not verified) on

The category of Super G did not exist for 2/3 of Stenmark's career. That means that he had only three disciplines from which to choose for most of his career, compared with four in the case of Vonn. In addition, the powers that be unfairly changed the rules part way through his career to prevent him from winning the World Cup if he did not race the downhill. This was done strictly because people from too many countries were getting disinterested because he would win every year. Vonn may have been more fearless, but Stenmark was the greater skier.

Submitted by Dave Mongillo (not verified) on

As a journalist I covered both and interviewed both. They were different people at different times. Stenmark was in the age of specialization, did Tomba run downhills, while Vonn had a longer courier when women were less specialized.

Submitted by Dave Hanscom (not verified) on

Without her injuries, Vonn would easily have gotten to 100 wins. Falls in speed events are much more conducive to injury. Stenmark was a great skier, but stuck to the much less risky events.

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