From Minnesota to Mount OlympusLindsay Vonn started skiing at the age of three with her father and grandfather on the gentle slopes of Minnesota. She first raced at the age of seven, and by nine she was already taking part in international competitions. Subsequently, strong results at the World Junior Championships and FIS World Cup led to her being selected for the US team at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City (USA).
Olympic bow at 17A 17-year-old Vonn performed honourably in her Olympic debut in Utah, finishing sixth in the combined and 32nd in the slalom. Two years later, she stepped up onto a World Cup podium for the first time, after finishing third in the downhill in Cortina d'Ampezzo (ITA); the following season, she recorded her first victory in the discipline. Although speed-focused races had become her speciality, she also began to obtain creditable results in the more technical events, allowing her to realistically aim for the top of the overall World Cup standings.
Resilience in TurinAt Turin 2006, she fell during a training run and was forced to receive hospital treatment. Despite the pain, she dug deep and managed to finish eighth in the downhill, seventh in the super-G and 14th in the slalom. In 2007, after gaining two silver medals at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, she suffered another injury during a slalom run that effectively ended her season. She bounced back in style, though, finishing top of the World Cup standings in 2008 and 2009, and landing the downhill and super-G titles at the 2009 Worlds in Val d’Isère (FRA).
Vancouver victoryThe versatile athlete began 2010 extremely well, racking up five consecutive downhill victories, as well as four further wins in the super-G and combined. But just a week prior to the start of the Vancouver Games, she experienced a significant setback when she damaged her shin in a fall. Determined to pursue her medal dreams nonetheless, Vonn was assisted by poor weather conditions, which led to some of the ski events being moved back and therefore gave her additional time to recover.
On 17 February, she approached the starting gate brimming with confidence, and on a technically demanding Franz’s Run, she demonstrated the full array of her talents to claim a well-deserved gold medal. Three days later, Vonn picked up a bronze in the super-G, but crashed in her three other events, including the combined, which she had actually led after the downhill portion.
She ended the 2009-2010 season on a high note, earning her third large crystal globe in as many years.
Lengthy absenceAfter narrowly finishing second overall behind good friend Maria Höfl-Riesch (GER) in the 2010-2011 World Cup, Vonn returned to the top of the pile the following year, capturing her fourth large crystal globe and joining the elite club of female skiers who have prevailed in all five Alpine disciplines.
On 5 February 2013, the Saint Paul native suffered a serious injury to her right knee after falling in the super-G during the World Championships in Schladming (AUT). With Sochi 2014 approaching, an initial attempt at a comeback failed, as she reinjured herself in training and ended up on the operating table once again.
Her absence from the skiing circuit would eventually last almost two years. During her rehabilitation, and while watching the Sochi Games on television, she set herself a target of competing at Pyeongchang 2018.
Surge to the summitVonn returned to the circuit in late 2014, and got back to winning ways almost immediately. On 19 January 2015, she achieved one of the most important feats of her remarkable career. By registering her 21st super-G triumph on the Olympia delle Tofane course in Cortina d’Ampezzo, just one day after achieving her 32nd downhill win, she broke Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s record of 62 FIS World Cup victories, set in the 1970s – which she had already equalled the previous day – and consequently became the most successful women’s skier of all time. “Aaaaaahhhhhh I did it!!! Today was awesome!” she exclaimed via her Twitter account.
She soon increased that tally to 67 victories, bagging her 18th and 19th crystal globes – for the downhill and super-G – in the process. That total of 19, which includes four large crystal globes, awarded for topping the overall World Cup standings in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and 15 small globes (seven for downhill, five for super-G and three for super combined), constitutes yet another prestigious record for the impressive American.