Our View: Here’s to the GOAT, Lindsey Vonn
Not many athletes get to end their careers on a high note. Lindsey Vonn got to do just that in Sunday’s women’s downhill at the 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, capping her record-setting career with a bronze medal.
Vonn, the most-decorated female skier of all time, announced her retirement recently, saying her knees simply wouldn’t let her continue racing at the high level she expects of herself.
Vonn came back to run the downhill just days after a scary crash in the super-G where she smacked into a gate and then flew into the safety fencing on the side of the course. The crash left her bruised and with one black eye, and led her to remark: “I thought, ‘Why am I here? I’m too old for this.'”
But she was back in the starting gate for Sunday’s downhill, summoning one final great run and turning back the hands of time to finish on the podium.
It’s hard to express how remarkable Vonn’s career has been, particularly in the years following a harrowing 2013 crash — also in a super-G — at the world championships in Schladming, Austria.
It’s hard for even top-level athletes to return to form after serious injuries. Vonn did it repeatedly.
In the years since the Schladming crash, Vonn posted 23 more World Cup wins to her women’s-best total of 82. She posted five wins last season.
That all came despite more pain, more surgery and more rehabilitation than any 10 normal people will face in a lifetime.
Saying goodbye is the hardest thing for an elite athlete to do. In pro basketball, Larry Bird pushed his aching back through at least one season more than he should have. After winning six titles with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan was hardly recognizable playing two seasons in a Washington Wizards uniform after coming out of retirement for a second time.
Records in every sport are made to be broken. There may come a day when someone passes Vonn’s 82 World Cups, or the overall World Cup win record held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark of 86.
If those records fall, it will be time to remember again the talent and iron will that propelled Vonn to the heights she’s achieved.
Thanks, Lindsey, you’re the GOAT — greatest of all time.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart and Business Editor Scott Miller.