Hi Lindsey – so how excited are you about the 2022 Winter Olympics?
I’m so excited. I’m going to be a correspondent for NBC again, doing a number of things throughout the course of the tournament. It’s especially exciting in light of the last couple of years. I officially retired in 2019, but we’ve since been in this period where, if winter sports competitions have happened at all, it’s usually without crowds or fans. It’s been one of the last sports to get fans back – because of the potential travel involved and ban on public gatherings in certain countries – so it’ll be great for the athletes to have an audience back again.
Apart from the skiing, what else are you going to be watching?
I love the figure skating. In the summer Olympics, it’s gymnastics but there’s something about figure skating which feels like the winter equivalent. I’ve got my eye on [US figure skater] Nathan Chen this year – his chances of a medal look pretty good.
Does watching the Olympics make you miss the competition?
I definitely miss competing and racing. There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of moving down the mountain at 85mph. The Olympics are also a really special experience – something I’ve been lucky to be a part of more than once – so I’ll always miss that feeling. Getting the chance to represent your country is an honour. My most memorable moment has to be winning a gold in Vancouver in 2010. Most of my family were there and it was very emotional. But also walking into the 2002 Opening Ceremony in Salt Lake City, Utah – there was a lot of energy in the stadium and a real feeling of unity shortly after 9/11.
Is there anything you don’t miss about it?
Right now, I can’t say I envy the athletes who are busy preparing for Beijing. Travelling and testing have both been so complicated, and the training and warm-up events have been different. So I’m happy to be on the other side of things for now – to get to watch as a spectator and cheer on my teammates. If I could tell the athletes heading out one thing, it would be don’t lose sight of what you’re a part of in the moment. There’s always the hope – the goal – of winning a medal, but enjoying the chance to be there is the most important thing.
What was your training regime like back in the day?
Skiing is a difficult sport to train for because it requires a little bit of everything: agility, endurance, mental clarity, balance. You have to manage your training so you can work on all these skills at once. I did a lot of endurance training on the bike (I couldn’t run because my knees were so bad) and a lot of weight training for strength. Then some short-distance explosive work on the track (you need quick feet and quick reactions) and plenty of core work. I was in the gym for five or six hours a day on average, and in my prime it was more like eight.
How has that changed now?
The biggest change is that now I work out for fun. It’s about finding mental space more than building a physical body that is designed to accomplish certain things. It gives me freedom to experiment. I’ve got my Tempo at home, so I’m always doing circuits with that and lots of hip workouts to maintain flexibility. If I’ve only got ten minutes, I’ll do a quick core workout at home. My trainer Gunnar Peterson also gives me lots of circuits, so we’re always changing things up. I’d encourage anyone else to do the same. It doesn’t have to be this thing you dread – the main thing is getting there and doing as little or as much as you want.
Do you have any favourite ski resorts or runs?
There are so many beautiful places out there. Lake Louise was one and Cortina d’Ampezzo in northern Italy was another. Throughout my career I always noticed the difference between US skiing and European skiing. It’s such a part of the culture in Europe, whereas it’s only usually a holiday you take in the US. Skiers in Europe generally have a lot more experience, and the snow is different too. At the end of the day though, I enjoyed both
When you were learning to ski, you had your own idol in the sport. Tell us about this new documentary you’ve been working on…
I met [former Olympic Gold medallist] Picabo Street at an autograph signing when I was nine and it was the moment I felt really inspired to become an Olympian as well. So, I was honoured when the Olympic channel asked me to create an industry on someone who was my idol. They teamed me up with co-director Frank Marshall – who’s something a legend in Hollywood having worked on films like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones – to tell her life story as authentically as possible. It was an eye-opening experience. As a super fan, I thought I knew a lot about her, but there were elements which were brand new even to me. She was able to give us so much context to her life and her extraordinary achievements.
Do you see yourself making more films in the future?
Sure – I started my own production company a few years ago and we’ve got a few projects coming up. I’m not sure whether I’ll be in front of or behind the camera in all of them, but it definitely feels like the start of a new chapter.
Finally, Lindsey, what would you say to someone wanting to get into skiing or improve their skills?
It kind of depends on the age of the person – and where they live. Experience is key, but that’s easier said than done, especially if you don’t live local to the mountains or good ski resorts or facilities. If you’re young and fancy your chances at racing, try to get into local programmes where possible. There are always tons going on, so just enter and see how you get on. Although skiing is a tricky sport which demands a spectrum of skills, it’s also quite simple. The more you do it, the better you’ll be at it.
Lindsey Vonn spoke as part of the launch of ‘Picabo’, a film in a series of Olympic Channel documentaries highlighting epic winter sports stories ahead of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Watch the film at Olympics.com.