After winning a gold and a bronze in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Lindsey Vonn was prepared to return to the podium in 2014 in Sochi. But months before the Games opened, she tore her ACL and had to withdraw from the competition.
It was devastating for Vonn—the Olympics are the marquee event for downhill skiing, and for the seven-time World Cup downhill champion, it’s the most thrilling stage for her sport. When she was asked to be the first honorary ambassador for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, she jumped at the chance, because for top competitors it’s never to early to start looking ahead to the next Olympics.
The venues at the Jeongseon Alpine Center are still under construction — to be fair, the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics are still 1,000 days away — but Vonn was able to get a sense of how the ski events will unfold.
“They basically picked one of the highest mountains in the area and built an entirely new downhill track,” Vonn says. “There’s no resort — it’s the downhill track and the training hill and they’ll put one gondola up and that will be it. It’s going to be challenging, I think. It’s pretty steep the whole way.”
Beyond visiting PyeongChang, Vonn’s role as an ambassador includes promoting skiing in the region once the Games wrap up. “I’m trying to help skiing’s popularity in Asia,” she says. “They want to be more involved in ski racing; they want to hold World Cups. I think that would be very beneficial for our sport.”
And since it was Vonn’s first trip to Asia, was there any culture shock? “It was so clean,” she says. “I was like, ‘Where’s the litter? I don’t understand.’ I didn’t see one single bubblegum wrapper on the street.”
Read more on what Lindsey Vonn does in the offseason at redbull.com.