Olympic Skier Lindsey Vonn Treats Injuries with Cheese

It’s the Tiger Balm of the future.

By Ethan L. Johns
December 13, 2017

With the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics on the horizon, it seems important for the food world to revisit one area where food and sport intersect. That area just happens to be located on world champion skier Lindsey Vonn’s knee.

Why is there food on Lindsey Vonn’s knee, you might be asking? That is the million dollar question that the world started posing back in 2010 after the Olympic gold medalist was seen slathering Austrian topfen cheese on a bruise. Vonn tore a ligament in her knee before the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, and judging by a recent “story” posted to the athlete’s Instagram account, she’s staying ahead of her injuries by smearing cheese on them.

Topfen cheese is an Austrian variety of quark—an unripened, acid-set cheese similar to the French fromage blanc. It’s tasty when spread on bread, when baked into bars or when folded into pierogis.

But when it comes to the question of its medicinal use, experts have been largely stumped. Some point to the cheese’s cool temperature, while others wonder whether its calcium or salt content has something to do with its use as an anti-inflammatory.

"Using it on an injury is an unusual purpose for cheese even in those countries [where it is commonly consumed]," said University of Wisconsin-Madison food chemist John Lucey to NBC. "It's not clear if there's anything in this that would help."

Of course, it’s always possible that the relief Vonn obtains from her cheese therapy can be simply chalked up to the placebo effect.

In Pyeongchang, Vonn will be complimenting her topical dairy regimen with a high-fat, healthy, organic diet cooked by her personal chef—Genius Kitchen’s own Dan Churchill, the star of Feast with Friends. Churchill will likely be throwing together, among other things, Vonn’s preferred pre-competition meal: salmon, asparagus and rice.

Who knows, maybe he’ll even serve it up with a side of topfen cheese.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns