Lindsey Vonn wants gold for grandfather
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Lindsey Vonn gave an emotional news conference on Friday, Feb. 9, after arriving in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for her fourth Olympics, saying a victory here would be dedicated to her grandfather, who died in November.
“I miss him so much,” she said, breaking into tears. “He’s been such a big part of my life. And I really hope that he would be alive to see me, but I know he’s watching and I know that he’s going to help me. I’m going to win for him.”
Don Kildow died last year at the age of 88. He taught Lindsey’s father how to ski, igniting a passion that was passed down to Vonn. Kildow was stationed in Korea during the Korean War, and now Vonn will try to win gold here in his honor.
Have dog, will travel
Vonn arrived in South Korea on Thursday, Feb. 8 after a 24-hour journey due to a delayed flight. She wore gloves for the press conference to fend off illness, and she brought along her dog, Lucy, for support.
“She travels with me everywhere,” she said. “I was questioning whether to bring her here because it was a long trip. She’s always with me, so I figured I’d be there for the most important event.”
These are her first Olympics since Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2010, where she won gold in the downhill and bronze in the super-G. She missed the Sochi (Russia) Games with a knee injury.
Vonn started the season relatively slowly, with two DNFs and one 12th-place finish in Lake Louise, Alberta, where she usually dominates. But she has turned things around since then, and comes into the Olympics red-hot after back-to-back wins in the downhill at Garmisch, Germany.
“I knew my main focus this year was solely on the Olympics,” she said. “And so I’ve progressed my way through the season with that in mind. And. I’m very happy with how I feel physically, mentally and on skis. Last weekend was just the icing on the cake — exactly what I needed to build my confidence and be ready for these Olympics.”
Busy schedule ahead
Vonn will compete in the super-G Saturday, Feb. 17, the downhill Wednesday, Feb. 21 and the alpine combined Friday, Feb. 23. (Please note that those dates are based on South Korean time. Those are one day earlier in Colorado.)
Teammate Alice McKennis said Vonn is truly on her game.
“It’s awesome to see because the early season was kind of a bumpy start for her,” she said. “Seems like now she’s really peaking at the right time. It’s exciting to watch. I can’t wait to see what happens in the downhill.”
Vonn said a win wouldn’t be about herself or her career; it would be about her grandfather.
“Whatever happens will happen,” she said. “I’m not going to be nervous. I know he’s looking out for me and I think that actually gives me a lot of peace of mind.”