NEW YORK — Lindsey Vonn said Thursday that the 2018-19 season will definitely be her final one as a ski racer, even if she does not break Ingemar Stenmark‘s World Cup wins record.
Vonn has 82 victories, four shy of Stenmark’s record.
“If I get it [the record], that would be a dream come true,” Vonn said before a speaking event for Chase Ink in Manhattan. “If I don’t, I think I’ve had an incredibly successful career no matter what. I’m still the all-time winningest female skier.”
Vonn thought this spring and summer about continuing on to 2019-20 if she doesn’t reach the record this season. In the end, her lengthy injury history made the decision for her.
“Physically, I’ve gotten to the point where it doesn’t make sense,” Vonn said. “I really would like to be active when I’m older, so I have to look to the future and not just be so focused on what’s in front of me.”
Vonn repeated in PyeongChang that she planned to retire after the 2018-19 season, but at that time it was contingent on breaking the record.
“I’m not going to quit until I get that record, that is for sure, no matter how much pain I’m in,” Vonn said after her last Olympic race, “but I really hope it only takes one more season because it would be difficult for me to continue on after that.”
Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia hopes Vonn does not retire after next season. The Italian tried to persuade Vonn in PyeongChang.
“If I physically could continue for four years, then I probably would,” Vonn said she told Goggia in February. “But four years is a really long time. She said she’s going to keep trying to convince me, but we’ll see.”
When healthy (an important two words for Vonn), she has averaged about seven wins per season in recent years.
Vonn said she plans to race every downhill and super-G until she breaks the record, and probably through the end of the season in March, but no giant slaloms or slaloms.
Her first races are the first weekend of December at her favorite course, Lake Louise in Alberta, where a perfect weekend of three wins would draw her within one of Stenmark.
Vonn will leave the sport without achieving another goal — racing against men on the World Cup.
However, she said Thursday she could still do an exhibition event. Perhaps a head-to-head format.
In the spring, Vonn tabled her proposal to the International Ski Federation (FIS) to be allowed into a men’s race this fall but tweeted, “I haven’t given up on this. Just delaying it one more year.” FIS has denied her bid in the past.
Vonn hopes her next career is more successful than ski racing. Lofty goal.
She took a business class with other professional athletes at Harvard in May, noting then she had not attended college.
Chase, too, is helping her with the transition.
“I’m at an interesting point in my career where I want to pivot into business,” Vonn said, adding she wants to expand her Lindsey Vonn Foundation, which has aided young female ski racers. “It’s important to me to have people around me that know what they’re doing. I honestly don’t know the first thing about starting a business. I just know what I’m passionate about. I’m really passionate about beauty and outerwear.”
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