Vonn remains adamant she would not change anything about her career, all of her setbacks being “meaningful in a lot of different ways”. But it would still take her another decade, from Olympic gold to now, to reach such a point of personal equilibrium.
Adjusting to retirement was another challenge, and it is only recently that she has begun to feel comfortable even returning to the slopes again.
One of the biggest contributing factors behind her new sense of well-being, she says, has been the impact of Covid-19, or rather the societal shutdown that the pandemic brought.
“I think the pandemic was one of the best things that’s happened to me. It made me slow down and really spend time with myself and my thoughts and what I want to do with my life,” she says.
“When it comes to skiing, I never compromised and I always was successful. And that’s what brought me the most joy. Life off the slopes I’ve always compromised, and I’ve just found that makes me miserable.
“You are the only person who is in charge of your happiness. No one can make you happy. And neither can skiing. It’s being true to myself. Working out every day. Some people may think I’m crazy, and it’s too much. But it really brings me happiness. It’s important to listen to what you need.”
She is also aware of what others need, too. As well as throwing herself into her charitable foundation, which she launched in 2015, Vonn has also been named as one of the newest members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, which aims to use the power of sport to improve the lives of young people.
Be it body positivity or simply instilling confidence, Vonn is now firmly a paid-up member of the “practice what you preach” camp.
“Sport is a vehicle for a lot of different paths in life. A lot of kids can just get derailed in a substantial way because of one thing someone says,” she says. “It’s [about] giving them the belief in themselves to achieve whatever it is they want. And not letting exterior voices derail them to the point that they could have been something incredible but now they are miserable and on a different path.”
Laureus Academy Members support the work of Laureus Sport for Good. Get involved with Laureus at laureus.com