When Linsdey Vonn announced her retirement from racing after a final, medal-winning performance at the 2019 World Championships in Åre, Sweden, she told the world she needed a break from skiing. Her body was a wreck. She’d spent years rehabbing countless injuries sustained over the course of her very successful racing career, and she’d had enough of pain.
As if to put as much distance between herself and skiing as possible, she packed up her life in Vail, Colo. and headed to New Jersey to be closer to then-fiancé PK Subban, ice hockey player for the New Jersey Devils.
But that was two years ago. She and Subban have parted ways and time has apparently healed some—if not all—wounds. SKI recently caught up with Vonn over the phone, and she answered the call from a chairlift at Park City Resort. It was dumping, she said, so she was taking the opportunity to get some powder skiing in.
It’s nice to finally be able to ski for fun. I feel like I’ve found a really good balance to where I’m strong enough that I can stabilize my knee and it doesn’t hurt as bad. Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself and I go into the terrain park and I’m regretting it the next day. But it was fun for a second.
I always raced for fun, I never took it as a job. But it’s fun to ski in a more relaxed way now, to just go out there and do whatever I want to do, like ski the trees or make some sweet arcs. Whatever it is, I can have fun doing it.
I still feel like an old, crippled woman sometimes. There is so much pain tied to skiing because of all my injuries. So it took me more than a year to process it and get over it. To have enough confidence that I can ski without always thinking about being in pain.
It’s a mindset, and pain is always a factor, but it’s a mental barrier that I’m getting over. I can’t ski as long as I want to, and sometimes I can’t keep up with people. But generally, I can do the physical things I want to do.
I do miss going 85 mph. I can’t say that I’m going super fast when I’m powder skiing. But I like going through the trees because at least I get a little adrenaline rush when I try not to run into the trees.
But there is an upside to being retired from racing: I’m not constantly rehabbing my knees or my body. I can relax a bit and enjoy life. It’s not always about winning or being the best now—it’s about enjoying life. It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but it’s nice now that I’m here.
I’m more involved with skiing now than I expected I would be. I didn’t think I would be commentating skiing for NBC, but I actually really enjoy it and being part of the sport still. I like applying all my knowledge of skiing to different areas.
I like to think that I have fashion sense, so I like applying that to my fashion line and to my goggle line, YNIQ. It never feels like work.
I didn’t really know what I would want to do when I retired. I had a lot of businesses going, but I still don’t really know which one direction I want to go in. Whatever project I’m doing, I have to be passionate about it. I love working with The Rock on Project Rock; I love being able to make a documentary about my ski idol, Picabo Street, with my production company Après Productions.
If there’s an opportunity that presents itself that I might enjoy, I’m going to do it. I don’t like to limit myself. I never thought I’d be hosting a TV show [The Pack] with Amazon—that thought never really crossed my mind. But the opportunity presented itself and I loved it. Having fun and enjoying life is what drives me now.
I am a little jealous that I’m not at the World Championships this year. But I am excited to watch. I’m commentating for NBC for the men’s and women’s downhill and will keep track of the other races as well. Breezy Johnson is definitely my favorite to win the women’s downhill. Sofia [Goggia] was the obvious choice, but she’s injured. Breezy has been crushing it and has podiumed in pretty much every downhill race this year, so she’s my pick.