Lindsey Vonn crossed the finish line of the last race of her career, threw her arms up, let out a “Wooo!” and waved to the crowd in Are, Sweden, before taking a bow.
The 2010 Olympic gold medalist and winningest woman in the sport’s history had said she was happy simply to make it down the hill safely, but she also did it in medal fashion with her near-perfect run earning the bronze in the women’s downhill at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. This was her eighth time competing in the world championships and her eighth medal; Vonn's medals were earned across six worlds, and she now joins Kjetil André Aamodt (7) and Marc Girardelli (6) as the only skiers to collect a medal at six world championships. The collection includes five downhill medals earned over 12 years.
The latest, and final, medal makes Vonn the oldest women's alpine skier to medal at worlds. Slovakian Veronika Velez-Zuzulova was 32 years, 214 days, when she earned silver in the mixed team event in 2017. Vonn is 34 years, 115 days old. Last year, she became the oldest woman to win an alpine skiing Olympic medal when she took downhill bronze at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 for her third and final Olympic medal.
With her final run, one of the most storied careers in ski racing history comes to a close.
“I laid it all on the line and that’s all I wanted to do today,” Vonn said in a post-race interview with NBC Sports. “I have to admit, I was a bit nervous, probably the most nervous I’ve ever been in my life. I wanted to finish strong so badly that I had a really hard time controlling my nerves, and I never had a hard time with that. I’m just happy I made it to the finish and I came down in the lead, which was nice for my last race.”
The Vail, Colorado, native was the third skier to head to the starting gate, and she finished in 1 minute, 2.23 seconds to take the lead by three-tenths of a second. That wouldn’t last, as Slovakia’s Ilka Stuhec won with a time of 1:01.74 and Switzerland’s Corinne Suter took silver in 1:01.97.
But Vonn’s last run was nonetheless a fitting end to a legendary career.
She was greeted with flowers at the finish line by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark, who holds the record for the most world cup wins ever with 86. Vonn hoped to break his record this season before retiring from the sport but will finish with 82 victories, far more than any woman in history. She sent Stenmark a text and asked him to be at her last race.
Vonn announced this month that her two races at the world championships would be her last, citing repeated injuries and her body “screaming” at her to stop. She also competed in the super-G earlier in the week but clipped a gate and crashed out.
In her latest return to the competitive circuit, which has included three world cup races over three consecutive days in January prior to her two world championship races, her best finish was ninth, but in true Vonn fashion she went out with a world championship medal.