Lindsey Vonn knows what it is to face adversity. Despite a torrent of injuries that put her skiing career in jeopardy over the years (including a knee injury that left her unable to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi), Vonn took home the bronze medal in alpine skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang last month.
In an exclusive interview with SheKnows, Vonn reflected on her ability to bounce back no matter the odds and prove that women are just as strong as men.
SheKnows: Over the eight years you trained and fought to get back to the Olympics after your injury, how did you keep yourself going?
Lindsey Vonn: I tried to keep a positive outlook and to stay determined and focused on my goals. It can be difficult when you face injury or other major challenges, but keeping your goal in mind and pushing yourself to never give up in order to achieve that goal is really what keeps me going.
SK: You’ve said this will likely be your last Olympics. What emotions were you experiencing during that final downhill race?
LV: I was incredibly emotional during my final race for so many reasons, but mostly because I was racing for my grandpa. I wanted to perform my best and close out my Olympic journey on a high note for him.
SK: What’s it really like living at the Olympic Village? Any fun stories or facts that you can share?
LV: I haven’t stayed in the Olympic Village since 2002, when I was 17. There’s definitely always a lot going on there with all athletes from all different sports. The time I did spend there was cool because it’s really the only place you all come together outside of a competition, but this time around, I stayed elsewhere. I have my dog Lucy with me, who recently starred in a Bounty commercial with me. She’s the best traveling companion and keeps me focused in between all of the craziness.
SK: Conversations around gender inequality and movements like Time’s Up and #MeToo continue to dominate the news cycle. What changes have you seen in attitudes towards women in sports since you began your career?
LV: I don’t think I’ve experienced as much inequality as a lot of other athletes have faced, which I’m thankful for, but I do see the trend of female empowerment around the world beyond sport, and I think that’s a really positive and much-needed change.
SK: What is a stereotype or misconception about female athletes that you wish you could change?
LV: That we’re not as tough or strong as the guys — that’s simply not true!
SK: What’s the biggest lesson you’ll take away from your incredible Olympic career?
LV: Anything is possible as long as you give it your best and never give up. That’s really what the Olympics are all about.
SK: March is Women’s History Month. Who are some of the women that have most inspired you in your career or in your life generally?
LV: In sport, I definitely look up to Billie Jean King and Serena Williams. They’ve both revolutionized sport for women in so many different ways and have truly exemplified what it means to be strong, competitive females.
SK: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would you say?
LV: Keep working hard, keep going. You’ll hit hurdles and experience your fair share of pain, but everything will work out the way it is supposed to!