Ski champion Lindsey Vonn keeps secret message in Greek

Joanna Estrada
February 24, 2018

Vonn won a bronze medal in the downhill, but skied out of Thursday's slalom leg of the Alpine combined in what was likely her last Olympic race. Less than 24 hours later, the American was back on the hill, this time for her signature discipline: the slalom. There were 52 gates and about 700 yards separating her from the finish line. With, seemingly, anyone she could grab ahold of.

Vonn burst into tears when she was asked about her grandfather during a news conference in Pyeongchang this month before the Olympics.

Vonn, as expected, won the downhill portion of the event Thursday morning, leading the field by 0.74 seconds. "I miss the cheese, the chocolate".

Yes, for years now, Vonn has been the standard by which all other female ski racers are judged - and judge themselves.

She is 33, the oldest woman to ever win an Alpine medal at a Winter Games.

After Vonn won a gold and bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games, the assumption was she would go on to add medal upon medal to her career total.

"It's taken its toll".

"To win a gold medal in the GS was one of the most emotional feelings I ever had", said Shiffrin, who collapsed on the snow, overwhelmed with joy, when her winning time flashed on the scoreboard. Because I wouldn't be the same person that I am today. "When you're older, you have a different appreciation for life and the experiences you've had". I've been in the fence so many times. "I've had so many injuries and everyone counted me out".

All of the rehabbing, all of the recoveries - all worth it. Every single gym workout.

Not only was Vonn able to walk away with an Olympic medal where afterward she said, "I think I made him proud", but she found a way to honor her grandfather Don Kildow while she was in South Korea. "The emotion of it is kind of overwhelming".

"But as I saw in my career, things can change quite quickly", Vonn said. "And she had a wonderful career - and she is still 'having, ' because it's not over". I told her that. I have 20. She has 81 victories. That's why I'm going to miss it'. She has also won four World Cup overall championships. When her run ended, she shrugged.

"I told her, if I can, if I physically can continue for four years then I probably would, as long as I considered myself still a competitor". "Sofia just skied better than I did".

"I'm a racer, I love racing and the Olympics are the pinnacle of our sport and I love it". I was lucky that it wasn't so bad because I just had a little headache so that's totally OK.

These are Vonn's fourth Olympics.

"Realistically speaking, it has to play on your mind", he said. "You're not getting any younger", one reporter started - "Come right out and say it, why don't you?"

It turns out Shiffrin never needed to be the wintertime Michael Phelps, not when the external pressure, as she repeated time and again during the Pyeongchang run-up, are nothing compared to the pressure she puts on herself.

Vonn looked skyward and blew kisses in the air, a tribute to her grandfather, who passed away past year.

"I know that it would mean a lot to him to be back here, a part of him is in South Korea always", said Vonn, who shared her story with The Associated Press and the Chosun Ilbo newspaper. "But I think he still is".

Bad weather disrupted Shiffrin's grandest plans from the beginning, postponing each of her first two races.

Mikaela Shiffrin took home shiny gold, sparkling silver and a big old slice of humble pie from the Winter Games.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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