When Olympic gold medalist lindsey Vonn made decision to officially cave up she skis in 2019 — after tearing the lateral collateral ligament in she left knee — she struggled through emptiness and also depression, even comparing it come a death in the family.

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In a 2020 interview with sports journalist Graham Bensinger, Vonn insisted she was swearing off the slopes completely, due to the fact that her human body couldn’t keep up v her psychological drive to win. “If she a Formula 1 driver, is it going to be yes, really that fun to journey a Prius?” she told that in 2020. “It’s not the same.”

But because that interview, the 5-foot-10 Olympian has had actually a dramatic transition in perspective.

to be really hard for me to gain over, yet I am ultimately in a really good place, which i am thankful for,” she tells Alexa through a smile. “The an ext time far from the sport has actually been better for me.”

It’s no surprised the change took a minute. Vonn’s life had actually revolved approximately the piste from the tender period of 2, once her father, Alan Kildow, strapped a pair that skis on her tiny feet. By age 7, she to be racing competitively; in the so late ’90s, her family members moved indigenous Minnesota come Vail, Colo., for this reason she could seriously seek the sport. A decade later, at just 17, Vonn made her Olympic debut in ~ the 2002 Salt Lake City games. By the moment she retired in ~ 34, Vonn was the many decorated woman skier in us history, through 82 world Cup victories.

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Her life off skis, meanwhile, to be no much less intense. Vonn filed for divorce from her previous coach and husband, cutting board Vonn, in 2011, a connection that reportedly caused an estrangement through her father. She later attracted headlines for her three-year romance v golf superstar Tiger Woods and recent engagement to NHL player P.K. Subban, which ended in December. (The pair recently listed their Beverly Hills mansion because that $7.1 million, when Vonn scooped up a $3.4 million bachelorette pad in the neighborhood earlier this month.)

After that whirlwind, and also without the rigors of compete framing she existence, the previous champion realized she essential to develop other opportunities to victory.

“There was something absent — skiing, which had always been there— I offered racing as a crutch.”

Vonn is currently throwing herself right into a multitude that projects: founding Après Productions (with her childhood friend Claire Brown), creating a ski collection for Head, and also penning a memoir, “Rise: mine Story,” which will certainly be published by HarperCollins. She traveled to the Bahamas last fall with friends come celebrate her date of birth — miscellaneous she hasn’t done because she was a young child.

“There was constantly a factor I couldn’t perform things, however now ns am only limited by what I desire to do,” she reflects.

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And when she eased up, she also rediscovered her love the the sport that made she famous. “This year, i have skied fairly a bit, and am detect my enthusiasm for the again. Ns realizing exactly how nice flour is. It’s a lot much easier on my knees than racing and moguls.”

If the last 2 years have allowed her to recuperate mentally, they’ve additionally been a period of physics reinvention. Throughout her career, Vonn’s body has actually sustained (and overcome) sufficient injuries to to fill the pages the “War and also Peace.”

There to be her ago injury in December 2017, and also a fractured humerus bone in November 2016 that required surgery. The previous year, she broken her ankle during a crash in brand-new Zealand; 3 months later, she had actually to be taken turn off the course in a sled for a hairline fracture of her left knee. In the Vancouver Olympics, she winner gold in the downhill v a bruised appropriate shin. Throughout the 2006 games, Vonn crashed during a downhill maintain run and also was airlifted by helicopter, just to return 2 days later and finish eighth.

While many of she injuries were job-related hazards, one was downright unlucky: She sliced open up her best thumb, cut a tendon top top a broken champagne party while celebrating her success at the 2009 world Championship.

Vonn currently works out three days a week v celebritytrainer GunnarPeterson, sessions she typically documents ~ above Instagram. “I’m just working the end to store my knee solid and feel good.” yet the mix of cardio and also strength training have had actually a how amazing result.

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“I’m a many leaner,” she says. “I offered to perform things the were so sport specific, for this reason I had actually to be bigger. Yet everyone is like, ‘Oh my God, you in the finest shape of her life.’ It’s prefer — yes and no. I’m not training because that my sport anymore, i am cultivate to it is in lean and also fit.”

But Vonn, that has always sported a powerful, sinewy frame, never necessary permission to take risks with fashion.

“A lot of of world have said, ‘You shouldn’t wear things like that. It no look great on her body type.’ Or ‘You’re also muscular for that.’ I’m not going come say who, yet I’ve had actually a lot of of world say not such nice points to me.”

Fortunately, she never listened.

Along through Serena Williams and also Maria Sharapova, Vonn was one of the an initial female athletes to cross over right into the fashion world, attending the Met Gala with then-beau Woods in 2013 and also landing in Vogue a couple of months later. Posing for the fashion bible in a flow Narciso Rodriguez dress that verified off her sculpted gams, she produced a refreshing leave from the common stick-thin models and actresses.

“Vogue is the traditional in fashion, and it wasn’t really open up to athletes — it to be strictly models — so ns felt like it was a large step because that me come be recognized in the way,” she says.

She likewise remains chummy with designer Cynthia Rowley, who offered as Vonn’s industry Sherpa, bringing she to the the supervisory board of Fashion designers of America (CFDA) Awards in 2013. And she newly charmed designer Thom Browne. The purveyor of thin suits actors her together the star that his fall 2021 campaign, which showcased Vonn traipsing v a snowy wonderland in a fairytale dream sequence, attract a gold couture dress over a tuxedo jacket.

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“We filmed for 2 days in Utah, and also it to be amazing,” she says. “I was really honored he want me come be part of that.”

Vonn — who constantly competed v a full confront of assembly — is swerving into the beauty, beauty lane together well, through a cosmetics line (whose beginning was moved to 2022 due to COVID-19). “It’s around products the do more than one thing,” Vonn says.

She can easily it is in talking around herself.

The Olympian has recently taken on her place as elder sporting activities stateswoman, serving together a sounding board for present members the the us Alpine Ski Team and opening up her home as a de facto rehab center for athletes recovering native surgeries. Vonn is specifically close with young skiers Alice McKennis and also Breezy Johnson.

“They consistently reach the end to me,” Vonn says. “It renders you feel like you did something right. It’s an extremely fulfilling.”

It’s a duty her childhood idol and also mentor, gold medalist Picabo Street, famously filled because that her.

“It’s come full circle — motivated me to try and inspire others. She is the reason I created my foundation,” Vonn says, referring to she eponymous girls’ empowerment and also scholarship organization.

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She’s currently making a documentary around her mentor, the an initial project from Après Productions. “We have actually a great relationship, and I am able come showcase everything she supposed to me. Us did some interviews already, and there to be crying. That was really emotional.”

In the end, Vonn’s 2nd act is shaping approximately be simply as breakneck as her first — yet she’s never been one to earlier away indigenous a challenge.

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“Honestly, appropriate now, these have been some of the scariest times, due to the fact that I don’t understand what is ahead,” she says. “As an athlete, you try to regulate as plenty of variables together you can. And I can’t control any variables right now. Ns am just trying to stay in the moment and spend time with human being I care about.”

On location

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— Heidi Mitchell

Photos: Yu Tsai; Stylist: Anahita Moussavian; Fashion Editor: Serena French; Hair: Laura Polko in ~ The wall surface Group utilizing T3; Makeup: Karan Mitchell at TMG-LA using Vita Liberata; Manicure: Ashlie Johnson in ~ The wall Group