STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Lindsey Vonn’s body may have told her it’s time to quit skiing, but the American says it was her heart that won her a final medal of her career as she took bronze in the women’s downhill at the World Championships in Are.
The 34-year-old, who is the most successful female skier of all time, announced earlier in the week that she would quit the sport after Sunday’s race, and she rolled back the clock to give the crowd something to remember her by.
“It was such an emotional day for me - it was really hard to control my nerves,” Vonn said following the race, which was won by Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, with Corinne Suter of Switzerland claiming silver.
“I was definitely the most nervous I’ve been in my entire life, and all I wanted to do was finish strong and have the ending that I’ve been dreaming of for my career,” she added.
Aside from the medal, the highlight for Vonn was being greeted by Swedish skiing great Ingemar Stenmark, who presented her with a bouquet of flowers after her final run and whose record of 86 World Cup victories she spent her career chasing.
“He’s a man of few words, but he said... I skied great, and those are special words coming from him,” Vonn said.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Vonn bristled at a reporter’s suggestion that she had no chance of winning in her final race, and her blistering performance put her in the lead before Stuhec took over, leaving her to settle for bronze.
“It’s (like) a gold medal for me, no-one can take it away, I skied my heart out. I’m barely making it through with my body the way it is, but I think I skied with all heart today, and that’s what willed me down to get a medal,” Vonn explained.
Her hopes of a successful swansong had been hampered by a knee injury which forced her to call an abrupt halt to what should have been her farewell tour of the ski circuit.
“This season has not gone the way I wanted it to, but I’m thankful that I was able to have a great run today and get on the podium and get my final World Championship medal of my career,” she said.
(The story corrects quote in par six.)
Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge