Lindsey Vonn wins bronze medal at worlds in final race of storied career | AspenTimes.com

Lindsey Vonn wins bronze medal at worlds in final race of storied career

The Associated Press

ARE, Sweden — One last comeback complete. One last medal.

Five days after crashing in super-G, Lindsey Vonn bounced back to win the bronze medal in the world championship downhill Sunday in the final race of her career.

“I laid it all on the line. That’s all I wanted to do today,” Vonn said. “I have to admit I was a little bit nervous, probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life. I wanted to finish strong so badly.”

It’s a medal that brings Vonn full circle: the American’s two silvers at the 2007 worlds on the same course in Are were the first two major championship medals of her career.

“She has been business as usual this whole week, saying I’m racing to win,” said Karin Kildow, Vonn’s sister. “I was like, ‘Just maybe make it down and maybe stand up.’ But she was like, ‘No, I’m going full out’. She was definitely in the mindset to push it and she really did.”

When Vonn crossed the finish line she had a big smile on her face, waved and bowed to the crowd.

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“I had a really hard time controlling my nerves and I never have a hard time with that. I’m just happy I made it to the finish and I came down in the lead, which was nice for my last race,” Vonn said. “I’m also safe. I made it down safely. My boyfriend and my family are happy.”

Vonn had been planning on retiring in December but she recently moved up her retirement plans due to persistent pain in both of her surgically repaired knees. She then crashed in Tuesday’s super-G , coming away with a black eye and a bruised rib.

“Thank You Lindsey: Forever A Star,” read one sign positioned by the side of the course.

As soon as she exited the finish area, Vonn embraced Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, the only skier to win more World Cup races than Vonn — 86 to 82.

“I’m happy that I could finish strong. I’m happy there are so many people here,” Vonn said. “I wish my mom and my brother and my sister could be here, but half the family is here so that’s good. I soaked it all in. I waved to the crowd one last time. Ingemar being in the finish area was literally the best thing that’s ever happened in my life.”

Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia defended her title from the 2017 worlds, finishing 0.23 seconds ahead of Corinne Suter of Switzerland and 0.49 ahead of Vonn.

Vonn becomes the first female skier to win medals at six different world championships. It’s also her fifth downhill medal at worlds, matching the record established by Annemarie Moser-Proell and Christel Cranz.

Four U.S. flags were in the grandstand when Vonn came down and there were quite a few cheers when she started her run wearing a suit with blue-and-yellow trim — Sweden’s colors — to honor Stenmark.

“She really deserves this sendoff from her great career,” said Eleanor Bodin, a 21-year-old fan from Sweden who was holding up a sign saying “Thank You Lindsey.”

“She has been my favorite skier since 2008 when I saw her winning on television,” Bodin said. “I was a little girl sitting on the sofa. I just thought what a great skier and inspiration.”

One Italian competitor bent down to the snow at Vonn’s feet when Vonn was still in the leader’s throne.

At 34 years and 115 days old, Vonn also became the oldest woman to win a medal at a worlds, eclipsing the record set by Veronika Velez-Zuzulova in the mixed team event in 2017 at 32 and 214 days.

While it was snowing heavily three hours before the race, the skies cleared up quickly. However, fog and wind forced organizers to shorten the course to the second reserve start.

A shorter course favored Vonn, as it reduced the strain on both of her surgically repaired knees.

“It really helped me to start lower down,” Vonn said. “The upper section was a bit bumpy and with my knee it’s really hard on the body. I knew I had a good chance and thankfully right before I went, exact opposite of the super-G, the sun came out. I was like, this is it. This is my day. I just charged. I gave it everything I have like always. I put the nerves aside and just enjoyed it. I love going fast. It was a perfect day for downhill.”

LINDSEY’S LIFE

A look at the life of Lindsey Vonn, who has retired from skiing after winning bronze in downhill at the world championships:

1984: Born Oct. 18 in Minnesota, as Lindsey Kildow.

1996: Moves with family to Vail, Colorado, to advance her skiing career.

1999: At age 14, becomes first American female to win the slalom at the Trofeo Topolino, a prestigious international junior competition in Italy.

2002: Makes U.S. team for Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, racing in slalom and Alpine combined. Achieves sixth place in combined.

2003: Wins silver medal in downhill at junior world championships.

2004: Reaches a World Cup podium for first time with third place in downhill at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in January. First World Cup win comes in downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, in December.

2006: Makes U.S. team for Winter Olympics in Turin. Crashes in second training run for downhill and airlifted to hospital, but returns two days later to place eighth.

2007: Wins silver medals in downhill and super-G at world championships in Are, Sweden. Marries Thomas Vonn, a fellow skier who became her coach, and takes his name.

2008: Wins overall World Cup title, the second American woman to do so after Tamara McKinney. Breaks U.S. record for most World Cup downhill wins (10).

2009: Wins gold medals in super-G and downhill at world championships in Val d’Isere, France. Retains overall World Cup title.

2010: Wins gold medal in downhill at Winter Olympics in Vancouver, then bronze in super-G. Won a third straight overall World Cup title.

2011: Wins silver medal in downhill at world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Announces she’ll be getting divorced.

2012: Becomes overall World Cup champion for fourth time. Reaches 50 World Cup wins.

2013: Tears two ligaments in knee during super-G crash at world championships in January. After setbacks in recovery, says she won’t compete at 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Starts dating Tiger Woods — their relationship lasts two years.

2015: With her 63rd victory, breaks record for most World Cup wins for a female skier. Wins World Cup titles in downhill and super-G, and bronze medal in super-G at world championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

2016: Suffers hairline fracture of left knee in super-G crash in Andorra in March and then breaks arm in training crash in Colorado in November.

2017: Wins bronze in downhill at world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, becoming oldest woman to medal in that event.

2018: Wins bronze in downhill at Winter Olympics in Sochi and dedicates medal to her late grandfather. Says in October she’ll retire at end of 2018-19 season. After injuring knee in training, says she’ll be retiring after races at Lake Louise, Alberta, in December 2019.

2019: Announces she’ll be retiring after world championships in Are, Sweden. Wins bronze medal in her final race, the downhill.

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