Lindsey Vonn recently returned from a European vacation, to ski in France with a few family and friends.
She said it was her first ski vacation since she was nine years old.
“It’s a much different experience now,” the Olympic gold medalist said on Monday. “I kind of enjoy going slow — I mean, maybe not as slow as it should be.”
Nearly three years after her retirement, Vaughn, 37, said she’s still as competitive as ever — giving friends a head start on the mountain, for example, and racing to catch them. She will not compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the first since a series of injuries ended her professional career. But she said she enjoyed the new phase of her relationship with the sport.
“I think in a lot of ways it made it easier my decision was kind of for me, in the sense that my body was really telling me that’s enough,” Vaughn said. “I think it would be very difficult for me to stop on my own because I like it so much.”
One of the most decorated American snowboarders in history, Vaughn competed in four Winter Games and was, at one point, the face of Team USA. She won three Olympic medals in her career, including a gold in downhill in Vancouver, on top of 82 victories in World Cup races. She retired in February 2019 after winning a bronze medal at the World Championships.
Vaughn said she was “visibly sad” and “a little upset” in the immediate aftermath of her retirement. She wanted to continue racing and said she would have tried to compete in Beijing if her body had been lifted. But over time, she processed these feelings and tried to take the time to appreciate what she had achieved in her career. Help work on her new memoir, “Rise”.
“I think overall it was very therapeutic,” Vaughn said. “Life is completely different once I retire. So I think it was an important time for me to be able to look back and remember my journey, appreciate my journey and be proud of who I am today.
“I think sometimes when you’re in the moment you lose perspective of how hard you’ve worked and how far you’ve come. And I certainly, again, think I had a different perspective after a while in retirement.”
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In the book, which came out on Tuesday, Vaughn takes readers through her early days in the sport — she and her father began charting her path to the Olympics when she was nine — and her feelings at key stages along the way. She writes about feeling neglected and insecure as a teenage skater, for example, and about her decision to use men’s skates mid-career.
Vaughn also writes in detail about her battle with depression, which she has managed throughout her career, in part with medication. She credits the new therapist for helping her work through retirement, which she describes as “harder than any injury, harder than anything I’ve done.”
“I was on a wide spectrum, from thinking I didn’t need a therapist, to having difficulty opening up to someone, to who I am today,” Vaughn wrote in the book. “In the end, I realized that one day you will not wake up and discover that all your problems are gone. No one can do everything alone – not even someone as independent and stubborn as me.”
Although it may sound a little strange, Vaughn said she’s looking to be just a “regular spectator” for the upcoming Winter Olympics, which start on February 4. It will help her first post-retirement Games to be held in China, somewhere she never races.
“I think if it was somewhere else,” she said, “I would always think, ‘Well, I could have skated in that section better, or maybe I would have liked to skate there more. This is the Olympics and I will be excited for my teammates.”
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