Vail goes wild for Vonn |

Vail goes wild for Vonn

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyOlympic downhill ski gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn, center, poses for a photo with fan, Chris Koenig, left center, from Keystone, at a rally in Vail Wednesday

VAIL – Catherine Hagedorn, 17, wanted to see Lindsey Vonn at Wednesday’s Vail homecoming because “she’s the most incredible skier there is.”

At least 2,000 people gathered in Vail Square, just beneath Vonn’s home at the Arrabelle, to celebrate a ski season in which Vonn won her third-straight World Cup title and a gold medal in the Olympic downhill. Vail Resorts, one of Vonn’s main sponsors this past season, rolled out the red carpet for Vail’s crown jewel ski racer.

John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division, said the company and the community are lucky to have such an “amazing superstar in our midst.”

Hagedorn, like many fans in the crows, just happened to be in Vail for a ski trip and jumped at the chance to get a glimpse of the superstar skier.

“We’re so lucky,” Hagedorn, from St. Louis, Mo., said.

The Wolsky sisters, Rachel, 14, and Alissa, 12, in town from Ohio with their family, said they wanted to see Vonn because they think of her as a role model.

“She follows her dreams to get what she wants,” Alissa said.

Following dreams turned out to be the main theme of the event. Young Ski Club Vail racers graced the stage with Vonn as she gave them words of advice – to stay focused on what they want out of life.

“Follow your dreams, work hard and anything is possible,” Vonn told the young skiers and snowboarders.

Vonn was blown away by the enormous crowd that showed up to cheer her on, she said. She said it made her proud to be back in the Vail community.

“It makes me feel like you guys understand what I’ve accomplished and that means the world to me,” Vonn said.

Young skiers like Sam Folkman, 13, do understand. Sam, in Vail from Buck Hill, Minn., where Vonn began skiing as a kid, looks up to Vonn as more than just a ski racer.

“She’s just a total role model,” Sam said. “She makes great choices.”

Garnsey said all of Vail has become mesmerized by Vonn this season. From the moment last August when Vail Resorts hosted a send-off for Vonn at the same Vail Square location until Wednesday, people have been captivated, he said.

“We all became passionate ski race fans,” Garnsey said. “We all got caught up in the excitement of ski racing in this valley.”

Aldo Radamus, executive director of Ski Club Vail, where Vonn essentially got her career start in ski racing, said he’s known Vonn she was a little kid and that she “has done it right.”

“Every one of these kids can aspire to be what Lindsey Vonn is today,” Radamus said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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