A look at the career of Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, who competed just hours after an ‘excruciating’ crash in 2006 and recently said she doesn’t represent Trump

• In the Winter Olympics and beyond, Lindsey Vonn is the face of alpine skiing for Americans.

• She began skiing at the age of three and competing at the age of six.

• Vonn won a gold medal in downhill skiing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but missed the subsequent Olympic Games in Sochi due to a major injury. She also placed eighth during the 2006 Turin Olympics, just 48 hours after a horrific crash.

• She’ll be tackling the downhill, Super G, and combined events in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

For years, Lindsey Vonn has reigned as the queen of alpine skiing for many Americans. As one of the most visible skiers out there, she’s become the face of the sport in the US.

And now, with Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang approaching, she may be preparing to close one chapter of her athletic career.

Reuters reported the upcoming games “are likely to be her last Winter Olympics.”

And the 33-year-old competitor is looking to make this last one count.

“I want to win more than everyone else expects me to win,” she told CBC. “The biggest competitor will be just myself, trying to stay relaxed and stay focused, because I have been waiting for these Olympics for so long and I want to win so badly that I need to be able to keep it together.”

Here’s a look at the career that’s gotten her to this point:


Vonn was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on October 18, 1984. Her father, Alan Kildow, is a lawyer and a former competitive skier. Her mother, Linda Krohn, is a lawyer who suffered a stroke while giving birth to Vonn. She grew up with two brothers and two sisters.

Source: The Washington Post, Team USA, Red Bull, The New York Times


Vonn first put on skis when she was only three years old, and was competing by the age of six. Instructor Erich Sailer, who also trained her father, said she skied like a slow “turtle” in her first event, according to The Washington Post.

Source: Team USA, The Washington Post


But her “turtle” phase didn’t last long. Vonn told The Washington Post that over the years, Sailer was able to motivate her to go faster. “He just knew what button to push in order to make me ski faster. I think that’s rare in coaches.”

Source: The Washington Post


Her family was also a crucial part of her athletic development. The New York Times reported her mother would often drive Vonn from Minnesota to Vail to train — a 16 hour journey. “I would be in the back under a sleeping bag, and she’d be driving and singing along to some Eric Clapton tape,” Vonn said. She added that her mother’s resilience in the wake of her stroke has been a major inspiration for her.

Source: Vancouver 2010, via the Wayback Machine, The New York Times


Vonn’s father also took a direct hand in coaching his daughter. His intense style led to tension with other coaches. When she was 11, the entire family moved to Vail to better facilitate her training. “That was stressful on them,” Vonn told The New York Times. “I felt so guilty.”

Source: The New York Times


Another pivotal moment for Vonn came about during her teen-aged years, when she stayed with competitor and fellow future Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso. Vonn accepted an invitation to go for a bike ride with Mancuso and her father. Unable to keep up, Vonn found herself miles behind the Mancusos. She vowed to change her attitude toward training after that.

Source: Yahoo, via the Wayback Machine


Vonn made her Olympic debut at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, at the age of 17. Her parents divorced that same year. Vonn and her father ultimately became estranged after he disapproved of her relationship with fellow ski racer Thomas Vonn, who she married in 2007.

Source: The New York Times, Yahoo


Vonn’s hopes for a medal were dashed at the 2006 Winter Olympics, but she still impressed the skiing world. Just 48 hours after suffering a horrific crash in a training run and getting airlifted to a hospital in Turin, Vonn left the hospital and competed through the pain, coming in eighth place.

Source: The New York Times


“I could barely bend without excruciating pain, but it was important that I got out there. I was starting a new chapter in my ski career right there,” Vonn said.

Source: The New York Times


Vonn had a chance to try for an Olympic medal once more at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. She ended up snagging two: a bronze in the Super G, and a gold in downhill skiing.

Source: CBS, TIME


Vonn was the first American woman to win gold in the downhill event. “I was just trying to ski well and accomplish a childhood dream,” Vonn told TIME.

Source: CBS, TIME


The following year, Vonn and her husband announced their intent to divorce. Throughout their relationship, Thomas had taken on support roles including helping coordinate interviews, providing tips on the course, and tending to logistics. The divorce was finalized in 2013, and Vonn kept her married name.

source
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times, ESPN


Then, a serious knee injury kept Vonn out of the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Over the course of her intense career, the athlete has sustained everything from frostbite to a broken ankle to a concussion to a severed tendon in her thumb. Sports Illustrated reported she’s had five surgeries from 2006 to 2016.

Source: USA Today, Sports Illustrated


Vonn wasn’t completely absent from Sochi, however. NBC brought her on to cover the games as a correspondent.

Source: Deadline


When she’s not skiing, the skier enjoys watching “Law and Order,” reading, cycling, and playing tennis and golf, according to Team USA’s official site. She also made a guest appearance on “Law and Order” in 2010.

Source: IMBD, Team USA, Access


Vonn typically resides in her spacious Vail abode, complete with mountain views and her own private gym. She also has three dogs — Lucy, Leo, and Bear — who frequently interrupt her Instagram workout sessions.

Source: For the Win, People


She dated Tiger Woods after her divorce, but the pair split in 2015. The relationship became strained, in part because of constant media attention. “Everybody’s looking at you and judging you and commenting on what they think is right or wrong and it was hard,” Vonn told E!

Source: E!


In the years since her divorce, Vonn has also reconnected with her father. “It’s fun to be with her now,” Kildow told Sports Illustrated. “My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Source: Sports Illustrated


He’ll have the opportunity to do just that this year. Despite a number of recent injuries, Vonn is all set to compete in Pyeongchang.

Source: USA Today


Vonn has said she’s looking forward to the event, but she won’t be competing for US President Donald Trump. “I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president,” she told CNN.

Source: CNN


Despite her success, Vonn has said she’s kept the attitude toward racing she had when she was 18. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she told Sports Illustrated. “I love going fast.”

Source: Sports Illustrated