The word in 2019 was that four-time US Olympian and 82-time World Cup winner Lindsey Vonn was out of the race. But even in retirement, Vonn is always on the move.
But later this week in Austria, Vonn scored another big win. On Thursday evening, Vonn became the first woman to ski the legendary Streif in Kitzbühel, Austria, a 3,312-meter pass known as the world’s most famous downhill course. Moreover, Vonn is the first person to ski at night.
Nicknamed the Mausefalle, or “Mouse Trap” by former professional skier Tony Seiler, the course, which begins with an 860-meter vertical drop from 1,665 meters, has been likened to jumping into the unknown, even when launched in broad daylight. .
“You only get that when you ski the Streif Mountain real landing gear,“Vonn said Thursday. Streif is the pinnacle of all downhills. No one believed I could do it. After all the injuries I’ve had, to come out of the starting gate here and get a once-in-a-lifetime chance (to get) my dream is incredible.”
The 38-year-old American described himself as “broken beyond repair” after retiring from skiing just four years ago. But in his first downhill attempt since then, he took on the challenge of becoming the first person in history to ski the world’s most difficult piste in the dark.
VIDEO: Lindsey Vonn descends in the dark – on the Streif in Kitzbühel
Vonn later said the drop reminded her of being on a rollercoaster, feeling her stomach “lift off of it and then the body drop down” during the descent into compression.
“In the dark, it makes it more difficult,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset in my life. (But) I’m a thrill seeker. I love pushing myself to the absolute limit and being on the verge of being scared. I live for such a challenge.”
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Vonn notes that she hasn’t raced a downhill course in four years, but pushed through the starting gate and entered the infamous course with an 85% gradient.
To accomplish this feat, Vonn borrowed the correct skis from US star Ryan Cochran-Siegle and had them prepared by her ex-serviceman Heinz Hammerle. Vonn, also known for spending a lot of time in the gym, began to physically prepare herself after suffering serious knee injuries throughout her career.
With her father, Alan, watching from the sidelines, Vonn said she had some fear that her “knee might blow out” during the project.
But there was another big reason Vonn said she was taking on the risky challenge.
“I did it for my mom, too,” he said. “My mother always taught me to believe in myself. And I knew I had the power because he was still following me. I thought about him a lot while doing this project. And he always believed in me more than I believed in myself.
Vonn’s mother, Linda Krohn, died in late August 2022, a year after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“If I ever told him I was crazy, he never bothered. He always says you know what you’re doing. I’m here behind you. Still, I figured if there was ever going to be a time to do it, it’s now because it’s helping me out extra.”