Retirement Isn’t Slowing Down Olympic Ski Champ Lindsey Vonn One Bit

Lindsey Vonn built her career — and her legacy — on going full speed ahead. When the American alpine skier retired in 2019 at age 34, she did so as the most decorated woman ever to step into skis, with three Olympic medals, four World Cup overall championships, eight World Championship medals, and a whopping 82 World Cup victories to her name. Even off the slopes, Vonn’s M.O. is non-stop action. Just take a peek at her Instagram bio: “Former Olympic 🥇 skier turned business woman. Living life in the fast lane. I don’t do slow. 🤷🏼‍♀️ 💃🏼”

Two years into retirement, that’s immediately evident when talking to the woman who’s been called a “speed queen” and a “living legend” by her peers. Speaking to SheKnows from New York (although she currently calls Park City, Utah, home), Vonn detailed everything that’s been keeping her busy and fueling her passions these days — and it’s a lot. There’s her Lindsey Vonn Foundation, for starters. There’s also her brand-new Head Sportswear x Lindsey Vonn Legacy Collection collaboration, which launched in the U.S. for the first time this week. Then there are meetings for the next iteration of that partnership; her work as a global ambassador for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Project Rock line with Under Armour (the brand has long been a sponsor of Vonn’s); her ski goggle company, YNIQ; investing and venture capital work; an appearance at the U.S. Open… oh, and a memoir coming out in January.

“I’m all over the place and doing a lot of things, and it’s been really exciting,” she says.

Did we mention she doesn’t do slow?

Just days before the Head launch, Vonn spoke to us about her goals for the sportswear line, why she’s happy mental health is becoming a national conversation, and what gives her confidence. Go ahead — speed-read!

SheKnows: What was appealing to you about this partnership with Head? Why this collaboration, now?

Lindsey Vonn: Well, I’ve been skiing on Head skis since 2009, so I’ve been with the company for a long time. And then, right before my retirement, we started talking about creating this legacy line. This is our second year, and I think everything’s going amazingly well. I obviously have a lot of knowledge in the space and know what I like and what I don’t like, and Head has given me the freedom to be able to do what I want and to design a line that I’m proud of. And this season, I think, is our best season yet.

SK: Obviously, you have a lot of experience with ski clothing. What are you hoping to translate to the everyday leisure skier with this line?

LV: I just feel like there’s an opportunity to be fashionable and have exceptionally high performance in ski wear, and I haven’t really felt like that’s been achieved in what I’ve seen on the market. This line is perfect because it has high function, exceptionally high performance, and I think it’s really stylish. It’s really chic and flattering. I always try to make pieces that are flattering to women, and again, I’ve always had things in mind when I was skiing in the past of what I would like to do and what I didn’t like about other lines. I feel like I fixed those problems and am really happy with what we created.

SK: Well, everything is beautiful, so congratulations! I wanted to ask you about confidence: What made you feel most confident when you were competing on the mountain, and what makes you feel confident now?

LV: Honestly, when I was racing, what made me feel the most confident was my preparation. I always felt like I came into every race as prepared as I possibly could be, from a physical strength perspective to mental strength, and the more prepared I was, the more confident I was.

Now that I’m retired, that it’s a bit different, but I think comfort and feeling comfortable in what I’m wearing gives me more confidence than anything else.

SK: Who — and what — was fundamental to your confidence as you were pursuing competitive sports at the highest level?

LV: I think my support team around me, my coaches, and my physical therapists who helped me come back from all of my injuries. As much I’d like to say that it all came from within, I did need help from other people. And I think having that support and knowing that they believed in me gave me something extra, as well as my family. My family was always very supportive of my skiing. But in the same token, most of my confidence, I think, really did come from my preparation.

SK: I also wanted to ask about the Lindsey Vonn Foundation. Can you talk about what you’re doing right now, and why helping kids gain confidence and follow their goals is a passion of yours?

LV: I gained so much confidence and inspiration from my childhood. I know Picabo Street, and she’s really what sparked my drive to be an Olympian. And the reason I started a foundation is to really, hopefully, give other young kids that same spark and confidence and encourage them to follow their dreams.

Shockingly, a lot of people tell kids they can’t do things — not from a disciplinary perspective, but what they actually can achieve in their life. I think that’s extremely detrimental. I’ve been fortunate enough to see these kids at our Strong Girls Camp, and we have weekend camps, or we used to before COVID. These girls definitely leave having a lot more confidence than when they came in. And that’s the most rewarding thing that has come out of my skiing career — the ability to have this foundation and to inspire these kids to follow their dreams.

The next step is, hopefully, once COVID settles down, we can get back to our in-person camps because that’s really important for our programming, and being with the kids in person is really important to me. We have our scholarship programs — we have some incredible scholarship recipients and their stories will make you cry — and we’re hoping to expand that program and get back to our camps and potentially expand to Europe. We’re trying to impact as many kids as possible.

SK: So it sounds like you haven’t slowed down much in retirement, but as somebody whose career was built on speed, has the transition been difficult for you?

LV: It took me about a year to settle in, and now I feel like I’m in a really good place. It’s different. It’s definitely difficult when you go from competing to all of a sudden not competing. And you have a lot of mental and physical energy that you no longer release. It’s not the same thrill writing emails on a computer as racing down a mountain at 80 miles an hour. So it feels a little bit different.

SK: Yeah, not quite the same thrill.

LV: Yeah, no, not quite the same! I mean, I found things to keep me excited; I’ve got some venture capital stuff that has been really fun, and I just actually just finished my book, which is coming out Jan. 11, which has been a long process, but I’m really excited about it. And yeah, it’s taken a little while, but I feel like I’m in a really great groove, and I’m really happy in life. And I’m just very appreciative of every day that I have and excited for every day.

SK: We’re seeing more high-profile, young female athletes opening up about intense pressures that they face and mental health issues. As an incredibly high-level athlete yourself and Olympic champion, can you relate to that?

LV: Yeah. It’s a really important conversation. I’m glad that it’s becoming more widely talked about. And it’s really one thing that I try to instill in my Lindsay Vonn Foundation kids, to be confident and have a good support system. Life is not easy for anyone, and it’s important to be able to talk about the things we are feeling. It really doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re an elite athlete or not, everyone has their obstacles. And I’m just happy that, again, it’s become more widely talked about. I hope this isn’t just a phase.

SK: Okay. Last question: We, of course, are SheKnows. But what does Lindsey Vonn know — better than anyone else?

LV: I know winter and skiing. I think I know a thing or two about it!

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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