Born Lindsey Caroline Kildow on October 18, 1984, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Lindsey Vonn is one of the world’s top female skiers. Growing up in Minnesota, with her four siblings, Vonn began her ascent to sports stardom as a toddler, when her father, former competitive skier Alan Kildow, first put her on skis. He would later serve as her first coach. Vonn started racing at the age of 7. Two years later, she moved on to international competitions.
Vonn trained locally with coach Erich Sailer before moving to Vail, Colorado, in the late 1990s. In 1999, the 14-year-old Vonn made history when she won the slalom at Trofeo Topolino in Italy, becoming the first American woman to attain this honor. Over the next few years, she excelled as a junior competitor, and was selected for the U.S. Ski team for 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. The following year, she won a silver medal at the Junior World Championship.
In 2005, Vonn joined the Red Bull Athletes Special Projects and began working with a new coaching team. Around this time, Vonn wrote on her website: “I had a feeling this was going to be my big chance.” Vonn had high hopes for the 2006 Olympic Games in Turino, Italy, but during a practice run, she had a terrible accident and ended up in the hospital. She still competed, however, coming in seventh in the Super G and eighth in the downhill events.
Vonn made an impressive comeback the following year, winning two silver medals at the 2007 World Championships in Sweden, in the downhill and the Super G. Vonn then began her winning streak at the World Cup in 2008, with a downhill championship victory—marking her domination of the sport. In 2009, she took the gold in the downhill and Super G competitions at the World Championships and won both the downhill and Super G events at the World Cup.
In 2010, Vonn got the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. She won two medals at the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada; she earned the top honor—her first gold medal—in the downhill, and took home the bronze in the Super G. Over the next few years, Vonn continued to dominate the sport. She took top honors at the World Cup in the downhill, Super G and combined events over three consecutive seasons.
On February 5, 2013, Vonn suffered a debilitating injury at the World Championships in Austria. After tearing both her ACL and MCL, along with fracturing her lateral tibial plateau, she underwent reconstructive knee surgery soon after. It took several months of recovery for Vonn to recover before she would be able to hit the slopes once again. She was next seen skiing at a training camp in August.
All seemed well as Vonn stated that her injured right knee felt as good as her left on the slopes, but she aggravated her injury while training on November 19. She competed and placed 40th, 11th and fifth in the Super G at Lake Louise, Alberta, the following month. Unfortunately, only two weeks later, she had to remove herself from a World Cup downhill competition in Val d’lsere, France, after her MCL was sprained. The sprain, in addition to her torn ACL, made Vonn’s likelihood in competing during the 2014 Winter Olympics unlikely. She announced on January 7, 2014, that she would not be able to compete in the Winter Olympics.
During her impressive career, Vonn has won nearly 60 World Cup victories, and is on target to surpass Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s 62 wins in the coming years.
Vonn made headlines in 2012, when it was reported that she was dating American golf superstar Tiger Woods. The pair went public with their romance in March 2013, but they announced their breakup in May 2015 due to their busy schedules.
Vonn was previously married to former competitive skier Thomas Vonn from 2007 to 2011.