Lindsey Caroline Vonn (born Kildow on October 18, 1984) is an American World Cup alpine ski racer on the US Ski Team. She has won four World Cup overall championships—one of only two female skiers to do so, along with Annemarie Moser-Pröll—with three consecutive titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010, plus another in 2012. Vonn won the gold medal in downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the first ever in the event for an American woman. She has also won the record eight World Cup season titles in the downhill discipline (2008–2013, 2015, 2016), five titles in super-G (2009–2012, 2015), and three consecutive titles in the combined (2010–2012). In 2016 she won her 20th World Cup crystal globe title - an all-time record among men or women, passing Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, who won 19 globes from 1975 to 1984.
Vonn is one of six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing – downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom, and super combined – and has won 76 World Cup races in her career through February 6, 2016. The 76 World Cup victories are an all-time women's record, passing Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria who had held the record since the 1970s, and only Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden with 86 World Cup victories has more. With her Olympic gold and bronze medals, two World Championship gold medals in 2009 (plus three silver medals in 2007 and 2011), and four overall World Cup titles, Vonn has become the most successful American ski racer in history.
Vonn received the Laureus World Sports Awards Sportswoman of the Year for 2010. She was also honored again as the USOC's sportswoman of the year for 2010.
Due to various injuries, Vonn has missed parts of several seasons, including almost all of the 2014 season and most of the 2013 season. She worked as a correspondent for NBC News covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia during her convalescence.
Here is a summary of her career as an alpine ski racer:
Vonn began her skiing career as a child locally in Burnsville, Minnesota, at Buck Hill Ski and Snowboard, and through family vacations that included 16-hour drives from Minnesota to Vail. By the time Lindsey was 7, she had skied in Minnesota, Colorado, and Oregon year-round. When skiing in Colorado, she attended lessons at Ski Club Vail, an alpine racing program. The subsequent year, Lindsey moved into the age class program and perfected her technical skills and accelerated the development of her Downhill and Super G abilities.
In the late 1990s, she and her siblings and mother permanently moved to Colorado to ski exclusively at Ski Club Vail. The move paid off when Lindsey Kildow and Will McDonald became the first American athletes to win the "Cadets" slalom events, in Italy's Trofeo Topolino di Sci Alpino. In 1986, Lindsey's hero, Picaboo Street participated, but did not medal in the same event.
After climbing through the ranks of the U.S. Ski Team, she made her World Cup debut at age 16 on November 18, 2000, in Park City, Utah.
In her Olympic debut at the 2002 Winter Olympics at age 17, Vonn raced in both slalom and combined in Salt Lake City, with her best result coming with sixth in combined. On March 4, 2003, she earned a silver medal in downhill in the Junior World Championship at Puy Saint-Vincent, France.
On March 24, 2004, Vonn was the downhill silver medalist at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Mt. Alyeska Resort, Girdwood, Alaska. Earlier that year 2004, Vonn climbed onto the World Cup podium for the first time with a third-place finish in downhill in January 2004 at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, prior to her maiden victory in that specialty at Lake Louise, Alberta, in December 2004. She captured five more World Cup podiums over the next two months.
In 2005, she competed in four races at her first World Championships held in Bormio, Italy, pulling in fourth-place finishes in both the downhill and the combined. She was ninth in super-G, but failed to finish the giant slalom. She cited the unexpected appearance of her father, with whom she has a strained relationship, for rattling her before the event.
At her second Winter Olympics in 2006, Vonn clocked the second best time in the first practice run yet crashed in the second training run for the downhill race on February 13, 2006, in San Sicario, Italy; she was evacuated by helicopter to Turin and was hospitalized overnight. Despite a bruised hip and strong pains, she returned on the slope two days later to compete and finished eighth. The gritty performance earned her the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award, as voted by American fans, fellow Team USA athletes, former U.S. Olympians, and members of the media for best representing the Olympic Spirit.
Vonn earned her first "big race" medals with silver in both downhill and super-G at the 2007 World Championships in Åre, Sweden. A training crash before the slalom caused her a low-level ACL sprain to her right knee, ending her season four weeks early. Nevertheless, she finished third for the season in the women's 2007 World Cup disciplines of downhill and super-G.
In 2008, Lindsey Vonn won the overall World Cup title. She became the second American woman to do so, following Tamara McKinney in 1983. American Bode Miller won the men's title to complete the first U.S. sweep of the men's and women's overall titles in 25 years (McKinney and Phil Mahre in 1983). She also won the World Cup season title in the downhill and established a new all-time record for most World Cup downhill victories by an American with ten victories.
In 2009, Vonn repeated as overall World Cup champion, as well as repeating as champion in the downhill and also winning the season championship in super-G by winning the final race of the season. At the 2009 World Championships in Val-d'Isère, France, Vonn won her first world championship in super-g. In the super combined event, she won the downhill portion and had appeared to have finished second in the event with a strong slalom performance, but was disqualified for splitting a gate. Three days later she won the gold in the downhill. During the summer of 2009, Vonn switched her equipment sponsor and supplier to Head skis, after previously racing her entire career on Rossignol skis. In October 2009, Vonn was awarded the Skieur d'Or Award by members of the International Association of Ski Journalists for her performances during the previous season.
In December 2009, Vonn sustained a bruised arm after a crash during the opening run of the World Cup giant slalom. She continued racing as there was no fracture that would prevent her return and run at the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Despite skiing with her arm in a brace due to the injury, Vonn won three straight races (two downhills and a super-G) in Haus im Ennstal, Austria. With her victory in a super-G just prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, she clinched her second straight super-G discipline title with two races still to go. Vonn ended up also winning the overall title, as well as the discipline titles in downhill, super-G and combined, and by winning the last super-G of the season, she boosted her overall World Cup victory total to 33, surpassing Bode Miller for the most World Cup victories by an American. The third consecutive overall World Cup title also makes Vonn the third woman to achieve it, behind Petra Kronberger with 3 straight and Annemarie Moser-Pröll with 5 straight.
At the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, Vonn planned to compete in all five women's alpine events. On February 10, she revealed she had severely bruised her shin in training the previous week. Vonn said the pain from her injury was "excruciating" and she would have a difficult time competing at the Winter Olympics. Due to unseasonably warm weather and resultant poor snow conditions, many of the Alpine skiing events were moved back, giving Vonn additional time to heal. On February 17, in her first event, Vonn won the gold medal in the downhill at Whistler Blackcomb, beating longtime U.S. rival Julia Mancuso by 0.56 seconds and becoming the first American woman to win Olympic gold in downhill. In her second event, the super combined, Vonn finished first in the downhill portion of the race. In the slalom portion, however, she crashed when she failed to get her ski around a right-hand gate. Vonn said her shin wasn't the problem. In her third event, the super-G, Vonn finished third. Afterwards, Vonn said she didn't ski the last part of the course as aggressively as she could have and lost the race as a result. After the race, Vonn's husband Thomas, said the course was deliberately set up against Vonn. Austrian coach Jürgen Kriechbaum denied any wrongdoing. In her fourth event, the giant slalom, fog affected visibility. Vonn crashed in her first run, resulting in a broken fourth finger and Vonn's disqualification from the event. In her fifth event, the slalom, Vonn lost control and straddled a gate, disqualifying her from the event.
After three consecutive overall World Cups, in 2011 Vonn faced more serious competition – from her best friend among the World Cup skiers, Maria Riesch of Germany. Riesch had a strong start to the season by winning two downhills in Lake Louise, where Vonn previously had seven victories. Although Vonn placed on the podium in every speed race, she failed to finish in several slaloms. Riesch had five podiums in the first six slaloms and was significantly ahead in the overall ranking by the end of January. The World Cup season was interrupted by the 2011 World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, where Vonn suffered from a concussion she acquired during training one week earlier. She started in two events and achieved a seventh place in super-G and a silver medal in downhill. Back to World Cup and healthy again, Vonn attained an impressive series of results: being ahead of Riesch in most of the races (including a giant slalom she finished third, her best career result in GS until then), she took the overall lead for the first time all season after the downhill event of the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide. The super-G was cancelled due to poor weather conditions, and after the slalom Riesch regained the overall lead by a margin of 3 points. When the giant slalom was also cancelled due to weather, Riesch became the 2011 overall champion.
Vonn won her fourth Overall World Cup Title in 2012. The season opened in October in Sölden, Austria, where Vonn won her first giant slalom. This made Vonn the 6th woman to have won all events at least once. On December 2011, she won all three races in Lake Louise (two downhills, one super-G) for her second career 'hat trick', and with her eleventh win at Lake Louise she surpassed Renate Götschl's record for most career wins at a single resort (ten in Cortina d'Ampezzo). On December 2011, Vonn notched her first World Cup victory on U.S. snow, at Beaver Creek, Colorado. Due to a lack of snow in France, its super-G was rescheduled in advance for a Wednesday on the Birds of Prey course. Her limited success on U.S. snow is primarily due to a lack of speed events; only three have been run in the U.S. during her career. It was the first home win by an American woman in 17 years, since Hilary Lindh of Alaska won the downhill in nearby Vail in December 1994. With further victories in January 2012, she overtook Renate Götschl to become the third most successful female World Cup racer in terms of victories. On February 2012, Vonn achieved her fiftieth World Cup victory on the Kandahar downhill course at Garmisch, Germany. The win also gave her 25 career downhill victories, surpassing Götschl for second most career DH wins. With a podium finish in Russia on February 2012 Vonn clinched the season title in downhill, her fifth consecutive in that discipline. Vonn's expressed disappointment that she missed the FIS Alpine Record for 2,000 points in a season by 20 points. In her final race of the season at Schladming, Austria, she was not able to improve on her first giant slalom run after losing her pole at the starting gate. Her 24th finish at Schladming led to her loss of a potential 20-plus points for her season record.
Vonn got off to a slow start in the 2013 season, slowed by illness with marginal results in giant slalom and skipping a pair of slalom races in November 2012. She came back quickly once the speed events started, again sweeping all three races in Lake Louise from November 30 to December 2 (two downhills, one super-G) for her third career 'hat trick', and increasing her record for most career wins at a single resort to 14. The three wins increased her career total to 56, moving her past Vreni Schneider into second place all-time among women behind Annemarie Moser-Pröll with 62. After some disappointing results, Vonn announced her decision on December to take a break from the World Cup circuit to fully recover from her earlier illness. She returned and finished in 6th place on January 6 in her first downhill race since her break. Two weeks later she won the downhill in Cortina d'Ampezzo and week later won the giant slalom in Maribor, Slovenia. At the first race of the 2013 World Championships in Schladming, Austria, Vonn crashed in the super-G and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her right knee, with a tibial plateau fracture. Vonn said she would be ready for the 2014 Winter Olympics despite her injury. Before her season ending crash on February 5 in Schladming, Vonn led in the World Cup downhill standings with 340 points. Several were within reach of taking the title during her absence from the tour. Overall champion Tina Maze, who trailed Vonn by more than a hundred points, took a 4th-place finish in Méribel and a won in Garmisch to close the gap to a single point with one race remaining at the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide. Weather conditions were in Vonn's favor, as officials canceled the race after numerous delays due to a thick fog on the lower section. As a result, she won her sixth downhill season title despite not competing in a downhill since mid-January.
Vonn traveled to Austria for the first race of the 2014 Alpine Skiing World Cup, but ultimately decided not to compete during the first weekend. She announced plans to return to competition in late November. On November 20, 2013, Vonn re-injured her right knee straining it and partially tearing her right ACL after a crash during training. She returned to competition on December 6, finishing 40th the first of two downhill races in Lake Louise, Canada, then 11th in the second downhill on December 7, followed by a 5th place in the super-G on December 8. On January 7, 2014, Vonn announced that she would not compete in the Sochi 2014 Winter Games because she had re-injured her right knee on December 21, 2013, while skiing in France.
Vonn made her comeback to the top of the podium on December 6, 2014 at the Women’s World Cup downhill race at Lake Louise, Alberta, winning the event in only her second race back. In January 2015, she tied and then overtook Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell for the most World Cup wins ever. At the 2015 World Championships in Vail / Beaver Creek, Colorado, Vonn won a bronze medal in the first of ladies' events, the super-G. She placed 5th in the downhill race and 14th in the giant slalom race. On March 18, 2015, Vonn won the last World Cup downhill race at Meribel, France and claimed the World Cup downhill title for the seventh time. Vonn tied with Moser-Proell for the women's record of seven globes in one discipline. The next day, Vonn notched her eight victory of the season by winning the last super-G race. With this win, Vonn took the super-G season title for a fifth time, tying a record shared by German Katja Seizinger, Austrian Hermann Maier and Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal. She joined Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark as the only skiers to reach 19 season titles across all disciplines and the overall. Vonn also made a World Cup podium for the 113th time, tying Moser-Proell‘s women’s record.
Vonn started the season by winning the three races contested by women in Lake Louise (2 Downhill, 1 Super G) for her third career hat-trick. This brought her to 70 career World Cup wins, increasing her lead over the previous women's world record holder for most World Cup podiums by a woman (Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell, 62 career victories) and with her 25th Super G win, she passed Austrian Hermann Maier for most Super G wins for either gender. In January, Vonn tied the record of Annemarie Moser-Pröll for all-time downhill victories at 36 with a win at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria. Because poor snow conditions resulted in a shorter course, the race was uniquely held over two combined runs, similar to slalom and giant slalom races. Two weeks later in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Vonn broke Moser-Pröll's record with her 37th downhill victory.