Lindsey Vonn has won more World Cup ski races than any woman in history.
Lindsey Caroline Kildow was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on October 18, 1984, and grew up in nearby Burnsville. Her father, who won a national junior ski title before a knee injury derailed his career, pushed the oldest of his five children hard and had Lindsey on skis by age two. She learned to ski at Buck Hill, a 300-foot run in Burnsville, where she was coached by Erich Sailer, an Austrian Hall of Famer, who also worked with three-time Olympian Kristina Koznick. In 1994, Lindsey met Olympic gold medal winner and two-time World Cup champion Picabo Street at Buck Hill. Street, who lived in Vail, Colorado, became Lindsey’s mentor and role model, and Kildow began commuting to Vail to train. Two years later, the Kildow family moved to Vail so Lindsey could learn to ski race in world-class terrain. “Vail was wonderful to me but I missed all the traditional things of childhood–sleepovers, school dances…all my brothers and sisters had left their friends for me. That was stressful for them. I felt so guilty.” Lindsey became the first American to win the Cadets [under 14] slalom events at Trofeo Topolino di Sci Alpino in Italy. After climbing through the ranks of the U.S. Ski Team, she made her World Cup debut at 16 in Park City, Utah in November, 2000. Kildow had just turned 16 and, fourteen months later, made her Olympic debut in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, competing in both slalom and combined, where she finished sixth. The following year, Lindsey earned a silver medal in downhill at the Junior World Championships in France.
The World Cup tour is the premier circuit for alpine skiing competition. Ski racing is comprised of five disciplines; Slalom, skiing between 40 to 60 closely spaced poles or gates, necessitating quicker and shorter turns, Giant Slalom, featuring 46 to 58 poles or gates spaced further apart than slalom and raced over a longer course that includes a vertical drop of 250-400 meters, Downhill, the marquee event in racing, which is all about speed and is raced over a long, icy course that includes turns, shallow dips and small jumps. Super-G, also a speed event, is usually set on the same course as downhill, but with a lower starting point, while Combined includes one run of downhill and two runs of slalom, each contested on separate days with first place going to the skier with the fastest aggregate time. Unlike the Olympics or World Championships, World Cup standings are based on performance over an entire season, as opposed to a single competition.
In her fourth year on the World Cup tour, Lindsey Kildow finished sixth overall, the first of nine straight years she would finish in the top ten. After winning her first career World Cup race in 2006, she went on to win two more that season. in 2007, she married Olympic skier Thomas Vonn at the Silver Lake Lodge in Park City before going on to win three races that year. Vonn’s breakout season came in 2008, when she won the first of three consecutive World Cup overall championships. After taking gold medals in downhill and Super-G in the 2009 World Championships in Savoie, France, Vonn enjoyed the best season of her career in 2010. At the Vancouver Winter Games, she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in downhill while taking bronze in Super-G. Vonn then won her 33rd career World Cup race, surpassing Bode Miller for most Cup victories by an American en route to becoming the third woman to claim three World Cup overall titles in a career. Vonn was named AP Female Athlete of the Year—the first skier ever to win that award, and was also named USOC Sportswoman of the Year and Laureus World Sports Awards Sportswoman of the Year. After tearing an ACL, MCL and fracturing her right tibia in a crash in Austria in 2013, Vonn returned in January 2015 to win her 63rd career World Cup race, breaking Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proll’s 35-year-old record for most wins of all-time.
Lindsey Vonn has won four World Cup overall championships, joining Moser-Proll as the only two females in history to accomplish that feat. She owns seven World Cup season titles in downhill, five in Super-G and three in combined. Vonn has won 76 World Cup races in her career and is one of six women to have won races in all five disciplines. In 14 seasons as a professional ski racer, Vonn has earned 15 World Cup discipline titles, had 124 podium [top three] finishes and 195 top tens. Lindsey is fluent in German, having learned the language in order to communicate with fans, media and fellow competitors while racing in Europe. In summer, she trains six to eight hours a day, six days a week, incorporating endurance cycling, tight rope walking and reaction work into her routine. During the season, she focuses on speed, recovery and the technical aspects of skiing. Picabo Street said of Vonn, “Lindsey has a love for the fall line and for skiing that you cannot teach or buy. She has the discipline to sacrifice like only champions do and a work ethic that has now made her the greatest female alpine skier ever.”
On this date in 2015, Lindsey Vonn captured her seventh crystal globe trophy as World Cup women’s downhill champion in at a competition in Meribel, France.