Lindsey Vonn surges to the summit of women’s skiing

On 19 January, Lindsey Vonn, who won Olympic gold in the downhill at Vancouver 2010, established a new women’s record for the number of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup victories.

Monday 19 January 2015 will henceforth and forever be regarded as one of the most important dates in the remarkable career of Lindsey Vonn. By registering her 21st super-G triumph on the Olympia delle Tofane course in Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA), just one day after achieving her 32nd downhill win, the American skier broke Austrian legend Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s record of 62 FIS World Cup victories, set back in the 1970s. She had already equalled that record the previous day, but her latest win meant she could now claim to be the most successful women’s skier of all time, and she was understandably elated. “Aaaaaahhhhhh I did it!!! Today was awesome!” she exclaimed via her Twitter account. 

Triumph out of adversity

Her accomplishment completes an impressive comeback for the Saint Paul native. Crowned downhill champion at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Vonn then suffered a serious injury to her right knee after falling in the super-G during the FIS World Ski Championships in Schladming in February 2013.

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. The Games came and went without her participation, but she eventually returned stronger than ever, exhibiting her unique style that enables her to correct her own mistakes while building up speed from start to finish. 

A decade at the top 

The 30-year-old now boasts 63 victories from a decade of performing at the highest level of her sport, during which time she also set the record for the total number of crystal globes won (17). Her trophy cabinet features four large globes, awarded for topping the overall World Cup standings in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and 13 smaller ones (six for downhill, four for super-G and three for super combined). In addition, she claimed two World Championship titles (downhill and super-G) on the slopes of Val d’Isère in 2009, and is one of only six female skiers to prevail in all five Alpine disciplines.

Vonn has been involved in three editions of the Olympic Winter Games. At the tender age of 17, she finished sixth in the combined and 32nd in the slalom at Salt Lake City 2002, but four years later in Turin 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 event, seventh in the super-G and 14th in the slalom. In Vancouver, she became the first-ever American woman to earn a downhill gold medal, and later took bronze in the super-G.  

Olympic idealist

A keen believer in the Olympic ideals and spirit, and anxious to pass on her knowledge and experience to young people in the same fashion that her role model and mentor, Picabo Street, did to her, Vonn was the first Olympic champion to agree to act as an ambassador for the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games, which took place in Innsbruck in 2012. And she is due to fulfil the same role at Lillehammer 2016. “I know, from my experience in Innsbruck, that these competitions provide athletes with a truly magical experience,” said the resilient Alpine skier. “They visit new countries and develop new skills. I’m looking forward to enjoying the YOG once again.”