Many years and many injury comebacks in the making, Lindsey Vonn is finally returning to the Olympic Winter Games for the fourth and likely final time.
The most decorated world cup ski racer in U.S. history missed out on Sochi in 2014 because of injury, and even at this time last January her future was anything but clear as she raced for the first time in nearly a year following knee and arm injuries.
Yet on Saturday, there she was at Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, turning in a ninth-place performance in super-G that ensured she will be competing next month at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
It was Vonn’s first race since Dec. 16 when she won the super-G in Val d’Isere, France, earning her 78th world cup victory. That win was the highlight in an up-and-down season that’s seen Vonn finish well off the podium several times, crash in a few races, injure her back and pull out of a race immediately following her win at Val d’Isere.
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But the win last month fulfilled the top objective criteria to make the 2018 U.S. Olympic Alpine Skiing Team and, with one super-G race left before the team is named, her world cup points standing ensures she will be one of the U.S. women competing in that event in South Korea next month.
The 33-year-old from Vail, Colorado has earned a reputation for her resilience almost as great as her reputation for collecting medals. No woman has had more world cup victories, and only one man is in front of her, legendary Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark with 86.
Vonn made her first trip to the Olympic Games in 2002 as Lindsey Kildow and won the gold in downhill and bronze in super-G in Vancouver in 2010, her last Olympic appearance. She revealed in January 2014 that she would not be able to compete at the 2014 Olympics due to an injury to her right knee, but after waiting eight years to once again stand on an Olympic podium Vonn has finally secured her Olympic return.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.