NEW YORK — Attending U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s 53rd annual New York Gold Medal Gala on Thursday was bittersweet for Lindsey Vonn.
The four-time Olympian retired following the 2018-19 season, but after nearly 20 years of world cup competition — including 82 wins, the all-time women’s record — she's still getting used to the idea.
“I’m really not over skiing yet,” Vonn said as she walked the white carpet at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in midtown Manhattan. “I think I need a little time away from the sport.”
No matter how she feels, though, Vonn, who turned 35 last week, wouldn’t think of missing the gala.
This year’s event will raise nearly $2 million for U.S. skiers and snowboarders through the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation, and Vonn is being honored for her storied career, which also included the 2010 Olympic downhill gold medal, as well as two Olympic bronze medals – plus eight world championship medals.
“It’s important for me to be here, not just because they are honoring me tonight but because a lot of my friends are still competing and I want to show them support,” she said.
“I feel like in non-Olympic years, it’s really difficult for us to get enough (funding). A lot of people who are even on the world cup get their funding cut. I believe that athletes at the top of their games should have support, and without these events, we don’t have enough.”
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Besides, now that Vonn has put her Vail, Colorado, home up for sale and moved to the east coast to be with her fiancé, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, it’s a much shorter trip.
“It’s a lot easier for me to get here now that I live in New Jersey,” said Vonn, who flashed a huge emerald engagement ring to go with her hot pink and red Herve Leger gown. “But I would still be there for them, no matter what.”
Vonn, who along with nearly 30 other current or former U.S. stars took part in a “White Carpet” rollout before the event, took time to answer some additional questions about life after skiing.
How much can you tell us about your wedding plans?
We obviously can’t have the wedding while P.K. is still in season. Probably our options are looking at summer next year, but we don’t know where, we don’t know exactly when.
We might have a small ceremony first, and then a big one later. We’ll see. I think we do want to get married sooner, rather than later, because we want to have kids and that’s a long process.
What is so special about your relationship?
He’s so fun. He has so much energy, so much positive energy. I have a hard time sometimes, I have depression, and he always finds a way to brighten my day, no matter what it is — whether it’s just making me laugh and smile, or bringing me flowers, or saying something stupid, which always gets me to laugh anyways. He’s an amazing person, very caring, and I’m very lucky to have him.
What are your thoughts about the upcoming season? There are a lot of retirements.
I think it’s going to be interesting. I have a lot of friends on the men’s side and not having Aksel (Lund Svindal, two-time overall world cup champion of Norway) on the speed side is going to be weird. I of course watch other athletes, like Kjetil Jansrud (Norway’s 2014 Olympic super-G champion), and our whole U.S. men’s team, but it’s going to be weird not seeing those faces you always see.
I’ll keep track of my friends still on the team. Alice McKennis is coming back from injury (left leg tibia-fibula injury), so is Jackie Wiles (torn left anterior cruciate ligament and fractured left fibula and tibia), so I’ll be following them and their progress. But I think I need a little time away before I can be a true fan again.
What else do you have planned for the next few months?
I’m fostering four puppies. Thankfully, I have two adopted already, so now there are only five dogs at my house. They’re boxer mixes, they’re mutts. They’re adorable. I’m getting all of my friends involved, trying to get them adopted.
I’m finishing my memoir. There’s an HBO documentary (“Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season”) coming out November 26th. I’ve got my own beauty line. I’ve got a lot of projects in the works, some I can tell you about, some I can’t. But I’m busy, and that’s good. Busy keeps my mind off the fact that I’m not skiing anymore.
Lynn Rutherford is a sportswriter based out of New York. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.