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.

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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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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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