The ski champion attended her first prom at charity fundraiser before another knee surgery.
By Shauna Farnell
VAIL, Colo. – Lindsey Vonn hasn’t wasted any time crossing items off of her bucket list now that she’s retired; among them, going to prom.
On Friday night (March 30, 2019), the greatest female ski racer of all time rolled into the 80s prom-themed fundraising party in Vail for her charity, the Lindsey Vonn Foundation – dolled up in a floor-length pink mermaid dress and crimped hair.
The event marked 34-year-old Vonn’s inaugural prom experience. As a high schooler, prom was one of many childhood activities she had to forego in order to pursue her racing career.
“Yeah, I never went,” she said. “I would have loved to have gone. I was so unpopular that I can’t say I would have anyway. Honestly, I was not cool. I was only somewhat cool because I was a good skier, not because I was actually cool.”
Vonn did attend homecoming at Vail’s Battle Mountain High School in 2011 when a student boldly asked her to accompany him after she’d visited the school for a speaking engagement.
“It was really cute but also awkward because I was significantly overage,” Vonn said laughing. “This is kind of a fun way for me to actually go to prom. I also wanted to have fun with my fundraiser. I want everyone to have fun, be kind of goofy and silly and to have an amazing night to support a good cause.”
Mission accomplished. Hundreds of attendees, including Vonn’s parents, friends and siblings, turned out for the occasion. The place was a sea of mullets, bows, zoot suits, poofy dresses and shoulder pads.
The Lindsey Vonn Foundation, directed by Vonn’s youngest sister, Laura Kildow, aims to empower young females to pursue their passions through scholarships and leadership camps. One scholarship recipient – aspiring ice skater Caroline Pellerito – was in attendance at the fundraiser and, upon taking the mic to speak about Vonn’s influence, began crying, which brought Vonn on stage to hug her and the tears became contagious.
Vonn launched the Foundation in 2014 and has made a point to attend every leadership event (they are called Strong Girls Camps). Now that she’s retired, she’s ramping up her role even more.
“We are going to have more camps and are going to try to reach more girls. We’re expanding our scholarship program. I don’t just want to slap my name on something. I’m there, I’m involved. I want to be a part of the kids’ lives and I want to work with them to make a difference,” Vonn said. “Confidence and empowerment might not seem that important to some, but it really can change their lives as it changed mine when I met Picabo Street. I want to give those girls the opportunity to believe in themselves.”
Vonn has been busy since announcing her retirement this February, when she competed in her final race – the 2019 World Championship downhill in Are, Sweden – and finished third, collecting yet another medal for her trophy shelf and becoming the only ski racer in history to medal in six world championship events. The grand finale was made even more impressive by the fact that Vonn had scarcely competed all season after a training crash in November. This crash, as it turned out, resulted in a torn LCL and meniscus in her left knee, an injury for which Vonn is undergoing surgery this week.
Thus emboldened, Vonn attempted ski ballet on Vail Mountain under the guidance of fellow Olympic champion Jonny Moseley, who served as emcee at the fundraiser.
“I’m going for surgery on Monday, so I figured this was my opportunity,” Vonn said.“In case anything else happened, they can fix it while they’re in there.”
Retirement has been a challenging adjustment for Vonn, but in addition to her expanded presence at her Foundation, she’s got numerous business endeavors brewing, including a beauty line as well as her new role as ambassador for Under Armour’s recently launched Project Rock in partnership with Dwayne Johnson.
“The best part of retirement so far has been to spend time with my boyfriend and my family, the worst is basically adapting to a different life,” she said. “The center of my life has always been skiing. Now the center of my life is going to be business and my family, so I just have to adapt to that. It was definitely weird, especially the first week or two, but I think I’m getting into a really good rhythm and finding a balance. I’m trying not to do too much … I have a tendency to be a workaholic. I already see myself slipping into that situation where I’m booked every single day.”
Vonn’s boyfriend – NHL player P.K. Subban – did not attend Friday’s fundraiser because he had a game to play. This left Vonn on the open market to seek a “prom king” – one of many auction items that raised thousands of dollars for the Lindsey Vonn Foundation.
“I’m sure if he were here, he’d outbid anybody,” Vonn said. “It’d be really special if P.K. were here, but it’s still really fun. I’m happy I get to do it in an adult setting.”
Now that Vonn can cross “going to prom” off of her bucket list, she said there is one prominent item remaining, something she plans to spend the rest of her life fulfilling.
“My bucket list is having fun,” she said. “I honestly take myself too seriously most of the time. I’ve been so strict, so dedicated, I’m always worried about things like, ‘oh no, I have to go to bed early because I have to get up and have a big training session,’ or, ‘I can’t be tired, I have another race.’ I’ve never, you know, celebrated that much, or really let my hair down. In general, having fun and enjoying life are at the top of the bucket list.”