Vonn has clipped back into her skis to become the first woman to ever ski the Streif course of the Hahnenkamm races – and the first ever to ski it at night.
Before the American downhiller retired in 2019, she won everything there is to win in the sport. But there was one goal that eluded her – the infamous Streif.
Until now… And in true Vonn (hardcore) style she added an extra element to the challenge: she took on the iconic downhill course in the dark.
Here’s all you need to know:
– The Streif is considered the greatest challenge on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup and it is a race Vonn could never compete in due to only men’s downhill races being held in Kitzbühel.
– “Only when you ski the Streif are you a real downhiller,” the 38-year-old said. “The Streif is the pinnacle of all downhills, the most difficult course in the world. Nobody believed I could do it. After all my injuries, to now get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to kick out of the starting gate here and fulfil my dream is incredible.”
– “I’ve always had respect for the men that raced down the Streif, but I have even more respect now, because it’s one thing to go down it and another thing to ski to win; and now I can fully understand what that means. It has given me greater perspective how truly amazing these men are,” she added.
– Vonn had not raced a downhill course in four years but pushed out of the start gate and entered the notorious Mausefalle (Mousetrap), with an 85% gradient.
– She prepared intensely to push herself to the limits once again despite the severe knee injuries suffered in a career that brought an Olympic gold, 82 World Cup victories and saw her crowned a multiple World Champion.
– Vonn borrowed the skis from US star Ryan Cochran-Siegle and had them prepared by her former service man Heinz Hämmerle. Hitting speeds of more than 100km/h at night added further drama to an already intense occasion.
– Vonn said: “I felt like I was jumping over the edge of the world. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous before a start in my life. I’m a thrill seeker. I’m an adrenaline junkie, and I love pushing myself to the absolute limit; being on the verge of being scared. I live for a challenge like this.”
– Vonn was coached by her compatriot Daron Rahlves, himself a course winner in 2003. He said: “To see Lindsey finally have a chance to ski on this track in this kind of situation is incredible. I had no doubt she could ski it, but I was questioning if she was going to really ski it with a lot of determination – I was really impressed that she did. This is true downhill, if you make one mistake, you can have some bad outcomes. But the way she just came out to own it was really impressive.”
– Vonn also revealed she took on the challenge for her mother Linda, who passed away in August. “I knew she was watching me and was there as a guardian angel to help me accomplish this dream. I know she is proud of me. As she always ways.”
– The run set the scene for the 83rd Hahnenkamm Races that kicked off Friday January 20 at 11.30am.