In ‘Rise,’ Lindsey Vonn tells how she found joy in retirement through serendipitous meeting

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In her memoir, “Rise: My Story,” Lindsey Vonn shares her journey from a small hill overlooking Interstate 35 in Minnesota to becoming the greatest female ski racer in World Cup history, with plenty of bumps, turns and crashes along the way. “Rise” is out today and available here. In this excerpt, Vonn details working with a psychologist to cope with life as a retired athlete …

Early in my retirement, I heard a lot of advice from people, both solicited and not, about how I should spend my time. Fellow athletes, family, and friends were all too happy to weigh in with everything from “Doing nothing is the best!” to “Keep on grinding.” But the more advice I heard, the only thing that became clear to me was that no one knew the answers.

I’ve heard it said that any big change, including a positive one, inevitably comes with its own grieving process, and in my experience, that definitely rings true. Over that first year in retirement, I traveled through all the stages of grief—denial, pain, anger, bargaining, depression, reconstruction, acceptance. In a way, though, it only seemed fitting, because it was like part of me had died. I needed to fully mourn the chapter that was closing before I could embrace whatever came next.

As I tried to find my footing, my old friend depression started to creep in. I could no longer compartmentalize my feelings and just focus on training, and most days, I woke up feeling blue. I resented skiing—both the athletes who could still compete and the imaginary storyline of what could have been. Without my playing field, my competitive side had nowhere to go. I desperately missed the mental cycle that athletes exist inside— preparation, hard work, feedback, performance. You win or lose, then you get back up and do it again. Without that singular focus, I felt aimless. I worried I would never find that same feeling again.

In a way, that was a good thing, because life forced my hand. Since I no longer had skiing as a crutch, I was left with no choice but to confront—and actually work through—my issues. In the fall of 2020, I started working with a new psychologist, Dr. Amando Gonzalez (I call him Dr. Mondo) who takes a much different approach to therapy than anything I’d encountered before. Our meeting was serendipitous. I had just told Karin that I wanted to find a new therapist, to help me with my struggles since retirement. I was looking for someone very specific—a person who understood sports and what this transition is like. The next day, one of Karin’s business associates told her about this platform he was working on, an app to get mental health out to a wider audience, in conjunction with a doctor who sounded exactly like what I’d described.

Lindsey Vonn Book

Dr. Mondo is a kind soul with a calming presence. It was clear from the moment I met him how much he genuinely cares about helping others. I’d never worked with a male therapist before, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to open up to him, but I was happy to discover that he quickly came to feel almost like a big brother.

On our first call, we talked for over an hour. I learned that his framework mirrors an athlete’s approach—you assess your strengths and weaknesses, there are goals and check-ins to track your progress, and he even keeps score. A lot of times in traditional talk therapy, you skim the surface, by venting and sharing stories and patterns. That can feel good, and often it does help, but in my experience, it never solved the problem. Dr. Mondo practices something called brainspotting, a more focused method that helps you identify your unprocessed emotions and trauma and actually release them. If talk therapy is like the leaves of a tree, brainspotting is like its roots. At first I thought it sounded like hocus-pocus, but in practice, I’ve found that it’s not only fascinating, but has worked incredibly well.

Brainspotting is very immersive, so much so that at the beginning of our work together, Dr. Mondo actually came to my home for three days to oversee the process. The idea is that every time you experience emotional trauma, your body retains it, almost like a tally in your brain that won’t fade away until you fully work through it, by opening up your neurological pathways and clearing it away. Practically, it means you sit and actively focus on your stored traumas, sometimes for hours at a time. It can be very, very hard, and emotionally intense. Some days, I would feel so mentally drained, I would need to immediately sleep it off, but it really does work. On the other side, I’ve found it did allow me to fully process and move past some of those stored narratives.

“Injuries can be some of the most traumatic experiences, and people really hold on to them,” Dr. Mondo said, prompting me to talk more about my crashes.

I shook my head. “That’s not a thing that bothers me.”

“I think we should really talk about it,” he said. He wouldn’t let it go.

“You want to watch the videos?” I said. “Go for it. We can pull them up.”

We did. Eventually, he saw I was telling the truth.

“You’re the first person I’ve ever met where that isn’t the thing that bothers you!” he said. What can I say? That’s just the way I am.

For six months, Dr. Mondo came to my home once a month for three days, and we spoke a few times a week. Now, I’m on a maintenance program, where we talk a couple of times a month and I’ll see him every eight weeks or so. I can say without hesitation that this is the best I’ve ever felt.

I’ve been all over the spectrum, from thinking I didn’t need a therapist, to having a difficult time opening up to someone, to where I am today. Eventually, I came to realize that you won’t just wake up one day and discover that all your problems are gone. No one can do everything on their own—not even someone as independent and stubborn as I am. When it comes to mental health, I’ve found it’s good to be open minded. Mental health is your well-being. Therapy can be such a useful tool, a place to unpack who we are and how we can best live our lives—just as important as a dentist or a trainer when it comes to maintaining a baseline of health. We can all benefit from having an extra support system, because sometimes life is hard and it’s important to have someone you can talk to.

In the early days of retirement, everyone kept asking, “Why are you doing so much? Why are you working so hard? Just relax!” But through my work with Dr. Mondo, I’ve since discovered that being engaged in life—embracing the gym, leaning into my business projects, spending time with friends and family—is what brings me joy.

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IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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