Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods returns to golf

Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open in his first start on the PGA Tour since the same event last year. What should we expect?
Tour Confidential: What are expectations for Tiger's return at the Farmers?
Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open in his first start on the PGA Tour since the same event last year. What should we expect?
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
December 3, 2017; New Providence, The Bahamas; Tiger Woods hits out of the bunker on the ninth hole during the final round of the Hero World Challenge golf tournament at Albany. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
PGA: Hero World Challenge - Final Round
December 3, 2017; New Providence, The Bahamas; Tiger Woods hits out of the bunker on the ninth hole during the final round of the Hero World Challenge golf tournament at Albany. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
December 3, 2017; New Providence, The Bahamas; Tiger Woods hits out of the bunker on the ninth hole during the final round of the Hero World Challenge golf tournament at Albany. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
PGA: Hero World Challenge - Final Round
December 3, 2017; New Providence, The Bahamas; Tiger Woods hits out of the bunker on the ninth hole during the final round of the Hero World Challenge golf tournament at Albany. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both revealed they are excited to see Tiger Woods back competing, hopefully to a high level
Tiger's back and he's hungry - McIlroy
Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both revealed they are excited to see Tiger Woods back competing, hopefully to a high level
Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both revealed they are excited to see Tiger Woods back competing, hopefully to a high level
Tiger's back and he's hungry - McIlroy
Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both revealed they are excited to see Tiger Woods back competing, hopefully to a high level
Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both revealed they are excited to see Tiger Woods back competing, hopefully to a high level
Tiger's back and he's hungry - McIlroy
Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson both revealed they are excited to see Tiger Woods back competing, hopefully to a high level
Seeing as Justin Rose is in the midst of a run of form unmatched in its consistency since Tiger Woods a decade ago, it might be something of a surprise to hear the Englishman being described as “flying under the radar”. But for Rose, if that is the way it is then so much the better as he tries to carry on his incredible climax to 2017. Rose tees of his campaign in Thursday's opening round of the Abu Dhabi Championship and, regardless of the presence of world No 1 Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and a support cast featuring the likes of Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, he has to be considered one of the favourites, if not the golfer likeliest to win the Championship. Indeed, if this event was rated purely on recent score sheets then surely the punter would not need to look any further, especially as the world No 6 has come second and 12th in his only two other outings in Abu Dhabi. From the Northern Trust Open in New York City in August to the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta in December, Rose appeared in 10 tournaments and won three. But as impressive as this winning strike was, what was even more remarkable was that he finished in the top 10 on each occasion. Justin Rose (left) is part of an all-star cast Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tiger Woods was the last player who recorded 10 top 10s in succession – in 2007/08 - and Rose is understandably proud of emulating his friend. But, just like Woods - who actually went on to extend this streak to 12 - Rose does not intend for it to end now. “Ten straight top 10s? That has not been done by me before and probably not been done by many before,” Rose said. “So that was a really solid, consistent run of golf and then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances, that was a really, really strong streak. And I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum going as long as possible.” Rose could probably have done without the Christmas break, particularly after his triumph in Indonesia where he started and finished with 62s. However, the 37 year-old has been around long enough to know what is required. "I kept the body moving, kept the body fit, but didn't really focus too much on the golf side of things," Rose said. "I think it's really important to miss the game. I kind of like to have that itch to play again - then I know it's time to go.” When asked if it was a plus-point not to be the man under the spotlight, Rose provided a typically deadpan response. “Yeah, absolutely - it's an art form,” he said. “I'm more than happy with it. Your clubs do the talking. The golf course doesn't recognise who's world No 1. You've got to build a new body of work every single week. There's no point in talking about it. Under the radar is good.”
Justin Rose hopes hot streak has survived the winter break
Seeing as Justin Rose is in the midst of a run of form unmatched in its consistency since Tiger Woods a decade ago, it might be something of a surprise to hear the Englishman being described as “flying under the radar”. But for Rose, if that is the way it is then so much the better as he tries to carry on his incredible climax to 2017. Rose tees of his campaign in Thursday's opening round of the Abu Dhabi Championship and, regardless of the presence of world No 1 Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and a support cast featuring the likes of Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, he has to be considered one of the favourites, if not the golfer likeliest to win the Championship. Indeed, if this event was rated purely on recent score sheets then surely the punter would not need to look any further, especially as the world No 6 has come second and 12th in his only two other outings in Abu Dhabi. From the Northern Trust Open in New York City in August to the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta in December, Rose appeared in 10 tournaments and won three. But as impressive as this winning strike was, what was even more remarkable was that he finished in the top 10 on each occasion. Justin Rose (left) is part of an all-star cast Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tiger Woods was the last player who recorded 10 top 10s in succession – in 2007/08 - and Rose is understandably proud of emulating his friend. But, just like Woods - who actually went on to extend this streak to 12 - Rose does not intend for it to end now. “Ten straight top 10s? That has not been done by me before and probably not been done by many before,” Rose said. “So that was a really solid, consistent run of golf and then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances, that was a really, really strong streak. And I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum going as long as possible.” Rose could probably have done without the Christmas break, particularly after his triumph in Indonesia where he started and finished with 62s. However, the 37 year-old has been around long enough to know what is required. "I kept the body moving, kept the body fit, but didn't really focus too much on the golf side of things," Rose said. "I think it's really important to miss the game. I kind of like to have that itch to play again - then I know it's time to go.” When asked if it was a plus-point not to be the man under the spotlight, Rose provided a typically deadpan response. “Yeah, absolutely - it's an art form,” he said. “I'm more than happy with it. Your clubs do the talking. The golf course doesn't recognise who's world No 1. You've got to build a new body of work every single week. There's no point in talking about it. Under the radar is good.”
Seeing as Justin Rose is in the midst of a run of form unmatched in its consistency since Tiger Woods a decade ago, it might be something of a surprise to hear the Englishman being described as “flying under the radar”. But for Rose, if that is the way it is then so much the better as he tries to carry on his incredible climax to 2017. Rose tees of his campaign in Thursday's opening round of the Abu Dhabi Championship and, regardless of the presence of world No 1 Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and a support cast featuring the likes of Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, he has to be considered one of the favourites, if not the golfer likeliest to win the Championship. Indeed, if this event was rated purely on recent score sheets then surely the punter would not need to look any further, especially as the world No 6 has come second and 12th in his only two other outings in Abu Dhabi. From the Northern Trust Open in New York City in August to the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta in December, Rose appeared in 10 tournaments and won three. But as impressive as this winning strike was, what was even more remarkable was that he finished in the top 10 on each occasion. Justin Rose (left) is part of an all-star cast Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tiger Woods was the last player who recorded 10 top 10s in succession – in 2007/08 - and Rose is understandably proud of emulating his friend. But, just like Woods - who actually went on to extend this streak to 12 - Rose does not intend for it to end now. “Ten straight top 10s? That has not been done by me before and probably not been done by many before,” Rose said. “So that was a really solid, consistent run of golf and then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances, that was a really, really strong streak. And I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum going as long as possible.” Rose could probably have done without the Christmas break, particularly after his triumph in Indonesia where he started and finished with 62s. However, the 37 year-old has been around long enough to know what is required. "I kept the body moving, kept the body fit, but didn't really focus too much on the golf side of things," Rose said. "I think it's really important to miss the game. I kind of like to have that itch to play again - then I know it's time to go.” When asked if it was a plus-point not to be the man under the spotlight, Rose provided a typically deadpan response. “Yeah, absolutely - it's an art form,” he said. “I'm more than happy with it. Your clubs do the talking. The golf course doesn't recognise who's world No 1. You've got to build a new body of work every single week. There's no point in talking about it. Under the radar is good.”
Justin Rose hopes hot streak has survived the winter break
Seeing as Justin Rose is in the midst of a run of form unmatched in its consistency since Tiger Woods a decade ago, it might be something of a surprise to hear the Englishman being described as “flying under the radar”. But for Rose, if that is the way it is then so much the better as he tries to carry on his incredible climax to 2017. Rose tees of his campaign in Thursday's opening round of the Abu Dhabi Championship and, regardless of the presence of world No 1 Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and a support cast featuring the likes of Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, he has to be considered one of the favourites, if not the golfer likeliest to win the Championship. Indeed, if this event was rated purely on recent score sheets then surely the punter would not need to look any further, especially as the world No 6 has come second and 12th in his only two other outings in Abu Dhabi. From the Northern Trust Open in New York City in August to the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta in December, Rose appeared in 10 tournaments and won three. But as impressive as this winning strike was, what was even more remarkable was that he finished in the top 10 on each occasion. Justin Rose (left) is part of an all-star cast Credit: GETTY IMAGES Tiger Woods was the last player who recorded 10 top 10s in succession – in 2007/08 - and Rose is understandably proud of emulating his friend. But, just like Woods - who actually went on to extend this streak to 12 - Rose does not intend for it to end now. “Ten straight top 10s? That has not been done by me before and probably not been done by many before,” Rose said. “So that was a really solid, consistent run of golf and then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances, that was a really, really strong streak. And I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum going as long as possible.” Rose could probably have done without the Christmas break, particularly after his triumph in Indonesia where he started and finished with 62s. However, the 37 year-old has been around long enough to know what is required. "I kept the body moving, kept the body fit, but didn't really focus too much on the golf side of things," Rose said. "I think it's really important to miss the game. I kind of like to have that itch to play again - then I know it's time to go.” When asked if it was a plus-point not to be the man under the spotlight, Rose provided a typically deadpan response. “Yeah, absolutely - it's an art form,” he said. “I'm more than happy with it. Your clubs do the talking. The golf course doesn't recognise who's world No 1. You've got to build a new body of work every single week. There's no point in talking about it. Under the radar is good.”
After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods. The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger
After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods. The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Never go back, they say, never try to create what you had when the gods smiled on you. But Paul Casey simply could not resist. When the Englishman steps up on to the first tee at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday he expects a buzz “I haven’t felt since I was a young pro”. It has been four years since he was a European Tour member and, indeed, since he played in any of his home circuit’s regular events. The Ryder Cup was the principal lure in persuading him to rejoin, of course, but there were also the memories of the seasons that helped him climb to world No3. Abu Dhabi was a big part of this rise. “It really was,” Casey said. “I won twice there [in 2007 and 2009] and until Martin [Kaymer] started winning there every time he turned up, I thought it was my special backyard. So for this to be the tournament where I come back and start my Ryder Cup bid seems appropriate.” Casey first thought of the Arabian Desert amid the dunes of Birkdale in July. “I’ve been genuinely excited about this for six months,” Casey said. “I know I didn’t announce it formally until October that I’d rejoin the European Tour, but I had said to myself at The Open: 'F--- it, I’ve got to do this.’ I get great support and if I could parlay that support into playing in another Ryder Cup, it would not be only for me but for everyone who backed me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Alexander Levy of Europe celebrate victory in the 2018 EurAsia Cup Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images It has to be said that one of his other “best decisions” was to turn his back on Europe in the first place. Casey was outside the world’s top 70 and wondering whether he would ever be a member of the elite again when he opted to focus solely on the PGA Tour. Casey and his wife, the TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward, had just had Lex, the first of their two children (daughter Astaria arrived last August), and something had to give. Within six months he was back in the top 25. Casey realised he had been “knackered” for the previous few campaigns. “Chasing your tail off, playing two Tours is hard, especially when you’re outside the world top 50,” he said. Casey had found the answer. Yet even as the upward curve continued, there was a downside. Casey’s Ryder Cup status inevitably became a cause célèbre and Darren Clarke was certain at one stage that he had convinced him to sign up for the 2016 match at Hazeltine. Casey ultimately turned the offer down and then watched on in horror. “It annoyed me and I felt helpless, there on the sofa,” he said. “For the three previous Ryder Cups, I was like, ‘Come on, boys’ when we were on the ropes, but not berating myself, because it hadn’t been my choice I wasn’t there. But this time there was a doubt - if I’d made myself eligible and had qualified, could I have made any difference? I didn’t like that feeling and that’s the main factor for doing this; that and the fact that this might well be my last opportunity to play a Ryder Cup match in Europe. I’ll be, what, 45 in Italy in 2022, that’s a tall ask. So I have to grasp this now and my priority is making that team.” His performance in last week’s EurAsia Cup only whetted his and Europe’s appetite still further. It was his first time back in a blue and gold teamroom in a decade and he “thoroughly enjoyed himself”, as Thomas Bjorn’s young side came from behind to beat Asia. Casey won two out of three points. Now up to No14 in the world, it is difficult not to envisage the 40-year-old at Le Golf National. In the past three seasons, he has racked up four runner-up places and 11 other top five finishes. All that has been missing has been the title, which is baffling considering he was once such a prolific winner - with 17 triumphs worldwide. Paul Casey is determined to play in his first Ryder Cup since defeat under Nick Faldo 10 years ago Credit: REUTERS/Shaun Best “I’m a way better player than I was then and, no matter what anybody says about my Sunday displays, I have better thought processes,” he said. “It’s testament to how strong the PGA Tour is, to have played at the level I have and not won. But golf has changed and I’m having to reinvent myself. "When I was young I played a style of golf that was quite methodical - hit fairways and greens, over and over. But that doesn’t get it done any more. You used to just take the lead on Saturday night and hold on for dear life on Sunday. I remember winning the Benson & Hedges at the Belfry [in 2003] and shooting level par to hold off Padraig [Harrington]. That wouldn’t happen now. You have to get in or around the lead and then go again in the final round, shoot your lights out, and that's the Tiger [Woods] effect, right there. They're doing what he did - going for broke, being super-aggressive. Ten, 15-under every week will earn you a lot of money, but it’s all about the silverware.” Casey has earned more than £8m in the past three seasons and seeing as his caddie of the last two years, John McLaren, who helped Luke Donald reach world No1 in 2011, has accumulated upwards of £500,000, it was quite odd to find Casey apologising to his bagman at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last September. But Casey had led going in the final round at East Lake and had once more seen his trophy ambitions fall short. That’s one way of putting it | Six of the best quotes from the Ryder Cup “I’ve never said sorry on a golf course ever before that” he said. “Yeah, it was an odd blip for me, that. At the final event of the season, they secretly show the top 10 caddie earners that year. Jonny’s made that list the last two years. Otherwise, it’s all been major-winners and FedEx Cup winners and as Jonny said: 'Well we’ve done bloody well seeing as we haven’t won anything yet.' "You could say we are highly-motivated, yes.”
Paul Casey exclusive interview: 'I haven't felt this excited about playing since I was a young pro'
Never go back, they say, never try to create what you had when the gods smiled on you. But Paul Casey simply could not resist. When the Englishman steps up on to the first tee at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday he expects a buzz “I haven’t felt since I was a young pro”. It has been four years since he was a European Tour member and, indeed, since he played in any of his home circuit’s regular events. The Ryder Cup was the principal lure in persuading him to rejoin, of course, but there were also the memories of the seasons that helped him climb to world No3. Abu Dhabi was a big part of this rise. “It really was,” Casey said. “I won twice there [in 2007 and 2009] and until Martin [Kaymer] started winning there every time he turned up, I thought it was my special backyard. So for this to be the tournament where I come back and start my Ryder Cup bid seems appropriate.” Casey first thought of the Arabian Desert amid the dunes of Birkdale in July. “I’ve been genuinely excited about this for six months,” Casey said. “I know I didn’t announce it formally until October that I’d rejoin the European Tour, but I had said to myself at The Open: 'F--- it, I’ve got to do this.’ I get great support and if I could parlay that support into playing in another Ryder Cup, it would not be only for me but for everyone who backed me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Alexander Levy of Europe celebrate victory in the 2018 EurAsia Cup Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images It has to be said that one of his other “best decisions” was to turn his back on Europe in the first place. Casey was outside the world’s top 70 and wondering whether he would ever be a member of the elite again when he opted to focus solely on the PGA Tour. Casey and his wife, the TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward, had just had Lex, the first of their two children (daughter Astaria arrived last August), and something had to give. Within six months he was back in the top 25. Casey realised he had been “knackered” for the previous few campaigns. “Chasing your tail off, playing two Tours is hard, especially when you’re outside the world top 50,” he said. Casey had found the answer. Yet even as the upward curve continued, there was a downside. Casey’s Ryder Cup status inevitably became a cause célèbre and Darren Clarke was certain at one stage that he had convinced him to sign up for the 2016 match at Hazeltine. Casey ultimately turned the offer down and then watched on in horror. “It annoyed me and I felt helpless, there on the sofa,” he said. “For the three previous Ryder Cups, I was like, ‘Come on, boys’ when we were on the ropes, but not berating myself, because it hadn’t been my choice I wasn’t there. But this time there was a doubt - if I’d made myself eligible and had qualified, could I have made any difference? I didn’t like that feeling and that’s the main factor for doing this; that and the fact that this might well be my last opportunity to play a Ryder Cup match in Europe. I’ll be, what, 45 in Italy in 2022, that’s a tall ask. So I have to grasp this now and my priority is making that team.” His performance in last week’s EurAsia Cup only whetted his and Europe’s appetite still further. It was his first time back in a blue and gold teamroom in a decade and he “thoroughly enjoyed himself”, as Thomas Bjorn’s young side came from behind to beat Asia. Casey won two out of three points. Now up to No14 in the world, it is difficult not to envisage the 40-year-old at Le Golf National. In the past three seasons, he has racked up four runner-up places and 11 other top five finishes. All that has been missing has been the title, which is baffling considering he was once such a prolific winner - with 17 triumphs worldwide. Paul Casey is determined to play in his first Ryder Cup since defeat under Nick Faldo 10 years ago Credit: REUTERS/Shaun Best “I’m a way better player than I was then and, no matter what anybody says about my Sunday displays, I have better thought processes,” he said. “It’s testament to how strong the PGA Tour is, to have played at the level I have and not won. But golf has changed and I’m having to reinvent myself. "When I was young I played a style of golf that was quite methodical - hit fairways and greens, over and over. But that doesn’t get it done any more. You used to just take the lead on Saturday night and hold on for dear life on Sunday. I remember winning the Benson & Hedges at the Belfry [in 2003] and shooting level par to hold off Padraig [Harrington]. That wouldn’t happen now. You have to get in or around the lead and then go again in the final round, shoot your lights out, and that's the Tiger [Woods] effect, right there. They're doing what he did - going for broke, being super-aggressive. Ten, 15-under every week will earn you a lot of money, but it’s all about the silverware.” Casey has earned more than £8m in the past three seasons and seeing as his caddie of the last two years, John McLaren, who helped Luke Donald reach world No1 in 2011, has accumulated upwards of £500,000, it was quite odd to find Casey apologising to his bagman at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last September. But Casey had led going in the final round at East Lake and had once more seen his trophy ambitions fall short. That’s one way of putting it | Six of the best quotes from the Ryder Cup “I’ve never said sorry on a golf course ever before that” he said. “Yeah, it was an odd blip for me, that. At the final event of the season, they secretly show the top 10 caddie earners that year. Jonny’s made that list the last two years. Otherwise, it’s all been major-winners and FedEx Cup winners and as Jonny said: 'Well we’ve done bloody well seeing as we haven’t won anything yet.' "You could say we are highly-motivated, yes.”
Never go back, they say, never try to create what you had when the gods smiled on you. But Paul Casey simply could not resist. When the Englishman steps up on to the first tee at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday he expects a buzz “I haven’t felt since I was a young pro”. It has been four years since he was a European Tour member and, indeed, since he played in any of his home circuit’s regular events. The Ryder Cup was the principal lure in persuading him to rejoin, of course, but there were also the memories of the seasons that helped him climb to world No3. Abu Dhabi was a big part of this rise. “It really was,” Casey said. “I won twice there [in 2007 and 2009] and until Martin [Kaymer] started winning there every time he turned up, I thought it was my special backyard. So for this to be the tournament where I come back and start my Ryder Cup bid seems appropriate.” Casey first thought of the Arabian Desert amid the dunes of Birkdale in July. “I’ve been genuinely excited about this for six months,” Casey said. “I know I didn’t announce it formally until October that I’d rejoin the European Tour, but I had said to myself at The Open: 'F--- it, I’ve got to do this.’ I get great support and if I could parlay that support into playing in another Ryder Cup, it would not be only for me but for everyone who backed me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Alexander Levy of Europe celebrate victory in the 2018 EurAsia Cup Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images It has to be said that one of his other “best decisions” was to turn his back on Europe in the first place. Casey was outside the world’s top 70 and wondering whether he would ever be a member of the elite again when he opted to focus solely on the PGA Tour. Casey and his wife, the TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward, had just had Lex, the first of their two children (daughter Astaria arrived last August), and something had to give. Within six months he was back in the top 25. Casey realised he had been “knackered” for the previous few campaigns. “Chasing your tail off, playing two Tours is hard, especially when you’re outside the world top 50,” he said. Casey had found the answer. Yet even as the upward curve continued, there was a downside. Casey’s Ryder Cup status inevitably became a cause célèbre and Darren Clarke was certain at one stage that he had convinced him to sign up for the 2016 match at Hazeltine. Casey ultimately turned the offer down and then watched on in horror. “It annoyed me and I felt helpless, there on the sofa,” he said. “For the three previous Ryder Cups, I was like, ‘Come on, boys’ when we were on the ropes, but not berating myself, because it hadn’t been my choice I wasn’t there. But this time there was a doubt - if I’d made myself eligible and had qualified, could I have made any difference? I didn’t like that feeling and that’s the main factor for doing this; that and the fact that this might well be my last opportunity to play a Ryder Cup match in Europe. I’ll be, what, 45 in Italy in 2022, that’s a tall ask. So I have to grasp this now and my priority is making that team.” His performance in last week’s EurAsia Cup only whetted his and Europe’s appetite still further. It was his first time back in a blue and gold teamroom in a decade and he “thoroughly enjoyed himself”, as Thomas Bjorn’s young side came from behind to beat Asia. Casey won two out of three points. Now up to No14 in the world, it is difficult not to envisage the 40-year-old at Le Golf National. In the past three seasons, he has racked up four runner-up places and 11 other top five finishes. All that has been missing has been the title, which is baffling considering he was once such a prolific winner - with 17 triumphs worldwide. Paul Casey is determined to play in his first Ryder Cup since defeat under Nick Faldo 10 years ago Credit: REUTERS/Shaun Best “I’m a way better player than I was then and, no matter what anybody says about my Sunday displays, I have better thought processes,” he said. “It’s testament to how strong the PGA Tour is, to have played at the level I have and not won. But golf has changed and I’m having to reinvent myself. "When I was young I played a style of golf that was quite methodical - hit fairways and greens, over and over. But that doesn’t get it done any more. You used to just take the lead on Saturday night and hold on for dear life on Sunday. I remember winning the Benson & Hedges at the Belfry [in 2003] and shooting level par to hold off Padraig [Harrington]. That wouldn’t happen now. You have to get in or around the lead and then go again in the final round, shoot your lights out, and that's the Tiger [Woods] effect, right there. They're doing what he did - going for broke, being super-aggressive. Ten, 15-under every week will earn you a lot of money, but it’s all about the silverware.” Casey has earned more than £8m in the past three seasons and seeing as his caddie of the last two years, John McLaren, who helped Luke Donald reach world No1 in 2011, has accumulated upwards of £500,000, it was quite odd to find Casey apologising to his bagman at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last September. But Casey had led going in the final round at East Lake and had once more seen his trophy ambitions fall short. That’s one way of putting it | Six of the best quotes from the Ryder Cup “I’ve never said sorry on a golf course ever before that” he said. “Yeah, it was an odd blip for me, that. At the final event of the season, they secretly show the top 10 caddie earners that year. Jonny’s made that list the last two years. Otherwise, it’s all been major-winners and FedEx Cup winners and as Jonny said: 'Well we’ve done bloody well seeing as we haven’t won anything yet.' "You could say we are highly-motivated, yes.”
Paul Casey exclusive interview: 'I haven't felt this excited about playing since I was a young pro'
Never go back, they say, never try to create what you had when the gods smiled on you. But Paul Casey simply could not resist. When the Englishman steps up on to the first tee at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday he expects a buzz “I haven’t felt since I was a young pro”. It has been four years since he was a European Tour member and, indeed, since he played in any of his home circuit’s regular events. The Ryder Cup was the principal lure in persuading him to rejoin, of course, but there were also the memories of the seasons that helped him climb to world No3. Abu Dhabi was a big part of this rise. “It really was,” Casey said. “I won twice there [in 2007 and 2009] and until Martin [Kaymer] started winning there every time he turned up, I thought it was my special backyard. So for this to be the tournament where I come back and start my Ryder Cup bid seems appropriate.” Casey first thought of the Arabian Desert amid the dunes of Birkdale in July. “I’ve been genuinely excited about this for six months,” Casey said. “I know I didn’t announce it formally until October that I’d rejoin the European Tour, but I had said to myself at The Open: 'F--- it, I’ve got to do this.’ I get great support and if I could parlay that support into playing in another Ryder Cup, it would not be only for me but for everyone who backed me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Alexander Levy of Europe celebrate victory in the 2018 EurAsia Cup Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images It has to be said that one of his other “best decisions” was to turn his back on Europe in the first place. Casey was outside the world’s top 70 and wondering whether he would ever be a member of the elite again when he opted to focus solely on the PGA Tour. Casey and his wife, the TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward, had just had Lex, the first of their two children (daughter Astaria arrived last August), and something had to give. Within six months he was back in the top 25. Casey realised he had been “knackered” for the previous few campaigns. “Chasing your tail off, playing two Tours is hard, especially when you’re outside the world top 50,” he said. Casey had found the answer. Yet even as the upward curve continued, there was a downside. Casey’s Ryder Cup status inevitably became a cause célèbre and Darren Clarke was certain at one stage that he had convinced him to sign up for the 2016 match at Hazeltine. Casey ultimately turned the offer down and then watched on in horror. “It annoyed me and I felt helpless, there on the sofa,” he said. “For the three previous Ryder Cups, I was like, ‘Come on, boys’ when we were on the ropes, but not berating myself, because it hadn’t been my choice I wasn’t there. But this time there was a doubt - if I’d made myself eligible and had qualified, could I have made any difference? I didn’t like that feeling and that’s the main factor for doing this; that and the fact that this might well be my last opportunity to play a Ryder Cup match in Europe. I’ll be, what, 45 in Italy in 2022, that’s a tall ask. So I have to grasp this now and my priority is making that team.” His performance in last week’s EurAsia Cup only whetted his and Europe’s appetite still further. It was his first time back in a blue and gold teamroom in a decade and he “thoroughly enjoyed himself”, as Thomas Bjorn’s young side came from behind to beat Asia. Casey won two out of three points. Now up to No14 in the world, it is difficult not to envisage the 40-year-old at Le Golf National. In the past three seasons, he has racked up four runner-up places and 11 other top five finishes. All that has been missing has been the title, which is baffling considering he was once such a prolific winner - with 17 triumphs worldwide. Paul Casey is determined to play in his first Ryder Cup since defeat under Nick Faldo 10 years ago Credit: REUTERS/Shaun Best “I’m a way better player than I was then and, no matter what anybody says about my Sunday displays, I have better thought processes,” he said. “It’s testament to how strong the PGA Tour is, to have played at the level I have and not won. But golf has changed and I’m having to reinvent myself. "When I was young I played a style of golf that was quite methodical - hit fairways and greens, over and over. But that doesn’t get it done any more. You used to just take the lead on Saturday night and hold on for dear life on Sunday. I remember winning the Benson & Hedges at the Belfry [in 2003] and shooting level par to hold off Padraig [Harrington]. That wouldn’t happen now. You have to get in or around the lead and then go again in the final round, shoot your lights out, and that's the Tiger [Woods] effect, right there. They're doing what he did - going for broke, being super-aggressive. Ten, 15-under every week will earn you a lot of money, but it’s all about the silverware.” Casey has earned more than £8m in the past three seasons and seeing as his caddie of the last two years, John McLaren, who helped Luke Donald reach world No1 in 2011, has accumulated upwards of £500,000, it was quite odd to find Casey apologising to his bagman at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last September. But Casey had led going in the final round at East Lake and had once more seen his trophy ambitions fall short. That’s one way of putting it | Six of the best quotes from the Ryder Cup “I’ve never said sorry on a golf course ever before that” he said. “Yeah, it was an odd blip for me, that. At the final event of the season, they secretly show the top 10 caddie earners that year. Jonny’s made that list the last two years. Otherwise, it’s all been major-winners and FedEx Cup winners and as Jonny said: 'Well we’ve done bloody well seeing as we haven’t won anything yet.' "You could say we are highly-motivated, yes.”
Never go back, they say, never try to create what you had when the gods smiled on you. But Paul Casey simply could not resist. When the Englishman steps up on to the first tee at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday he expects a buzz “I haven’t felt since I was a young pro”. It has been four years since he was a European Tour member and, indeed, since he played in any of his home circuit’s regular events. The Ryder Cup was the principal lure in persuading him to rejoin, of course, but there were also the memories of the seasons that helped him climb to world No3. Abu Dhabi was a big part of this rise. “It really was,” Casey said. “I won twice there [in 2007 and 2009] and until Martin [Kaymer] started winning there every time he turned up, I thought it was my special backyard. So for this to be the tournament where I come back and start my Ryder Cup bid seems appropriate.” Casey first thought of the Arabian Desert amid the dunes of Birkdale in July. “I’ve been genuinely excited about this for six months,” Casey said. “I know I didn’t announce it formally until October that I’d rejoin the European Tour, but I had said to myself at The Open: 'F--- it, I’ve got to do this.’ I get great support and if I could parlay that support into playing in another Ryder Cup, it would not be only for me but for everyone who backed me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Alexander Levy of Europe celebrate victory in the 2018 EurAsia Cup Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images It has to be said that one of his other “best decisions” was to turn his back on Europe in the first place. Casey was outside the world’s top 70 and wondering whether he would ever be a member of the elite again when he opted to focus solely on the PGA Tour. Casey and his wife, the TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward, had just had Lex, the first of their two children (daughter Astaria arrived last August), and something had to give. Within six months he was back in the top 25. Casey realised he had been “knackered” for the previous few campaigns. “Chasing your tail off, playing two Tours is hard, especially when you’re outside the world top 50,” he said. Casey had found the answer. Yet even as the upward curve continued, there was a downside. Casey’s Ryder Cup status inevitably became a cause célèbre and Darren Clarke was certain at one stage that he had convinced him to sign up for the 2016 match at Hazeltine. Casey ultimately turned the offer down and then watched on in horror. “It annoyed me and I felt helpless, there on the sofa,” he said. “For the three previous Ryder Cups, I was like, ‘Come on, boys’ when we were on the ropes, but not berating myself, because it hadn’t been my choice I wasn’t there. But this time there was a doubt - if I’d made myself eligible and had qualified, could I have made any difference? I didn’t like that feeling and that’s the main factor for doing this; that and the fact that this might well be my last opportunity to play a Ryder Cup match in Europe. I’ll be, what, 45 in Italy in 2022, that’s a tall ask. So I have to grasp this now and my priority is making that team.” His performance in last week’s EurAsia Cup only whetted his and Europe’s appetite still further. It was his first time back in a blue and gold teamroom in a decade and he “thoroughly enjoyed himself”, as Thomas Bjorn’s young side came from behind to beat Asia. Casey won two out of three points. Now up to No14 in the world, it is difficult not to envisage the 40-year-old at Le Golf National. In the past three seasons, he has racked up four runner-up places and 11 other top five finishes. All that has been missing has been the title, which is baffling considering he was once such a prolific winner - with 17 triumphs worldwide. Paul Casey is determined to play in his first Ryder Cup since defeat under Nick Faldo 10 years ago Credit: REUTERS/Shaun Best “I’m a way better player than I was then and, no matter what anybody says about my Sunday displays, I have better thought processes,” he said. “It’s testament to how strong the PGA Tour is, to have played at the level I have and not won. But golf has changed and I’m having to reinvent myself. "When I was young I played a style of golf that was quite methodical - hit fairways and greens, over and over. But that doesn’t get it done any more. You used to just take the lead on Saturday night and hold on for dear life on Sunday. I remember winning the Benson & Hedges at the Belfry [in 2003] and shooting level par to hold off Padraig [Harrington]. That wouldn’t happen now. You have to get in or around the lead and then go again in the final round, shoot your lights out, and that's the Tiger [Woods] effect, right there. They're doing what he did - going for broke, being super-aggressive. Ten, 15-under every week will earn you a lot of money, but it’s all about the silverware.” Casey has earned more than £8m in the past three seasons and seeing as his caddie of the last two years, John McLaren, who helped Luke Donald reach world No1 in 2011, has accumulated upwards of £500,000, it was quite odd to find Casey apologising to his bagman at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last September. But Casey had led going in the final round at East Lake and had once more seen his trophy ambitions fall short. That’s one way of putting it | Six of the best quotes from the Ryder Cup “I’ve never said sorry on a golf course ever before that” he said. “Yeah, it was an odd blip for me, that. At the final event of the season, they secretly show the top 10 caddie earners that year. Jonny’s made that list the last two years. Otherwise, it’s all been major-winners and FedEx Cup winners and as Jonny said: 'Well we’ve done bloody well seeing as we haven’t won anything yet.' "You could say we are highly-motivated, yes.”
Paul Casey exclusive interview: 'I haven't felt this excited about playing since I was a young pro'
Never go back, they say, never try to create what you had when the gods smiled on you. But Paul Casey simply could not resist. When the Englishman steps up on to the first tee at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday he expects a buzz “I haven’t felt since I was a young pro”. It has been four years since he was a European Tour member and, indeed, since he played in any of his home circuit’s regular events. The Ryder Cup was the principal lure in persuading him to rejoin, of course, but there were also the memories of the seasons that helped him climb to world No3. Abu Dhabi was a big part of this rise. “It really was,” Casey said. “I won twice there [in 2007 and 2009] and until Martin [Kaymer] started winning there every time he turned up, I thought it was my special backyard. So for this to be the tournament where I come back and start my Ryder Cup bid seems appropriate.” Casey first thought of the Arabian Desert amid the dunes of Birkdale in July. “I’ve been genuinely excited about this for six months,” Casey said. “I know I didn’t announce it formally until October that I’d rejoin the European Tour, but I had said to myself at The Open: 'F--- it, I’ve got to do this.’ I get great support and if I could parlay that support into playing in another Ryder Cup, it would not be only for me but for everyone who backed me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Bernd Wiesberger, Paul Casey, Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Alexander Levy of Europe celebrate victory in the 2018 EurAsia Cup Credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images It has to be said that one of his other “best decisions” was to turn his back on Europe in the first place. Casey was outside the world’s top 70 and wondering whether he would ever be a member of the elite again when he opted to focus solely on the PGA Tour. Casey and his wife, the TV presenter Pollyanna Woodward, had just had Lex, the first of their two children (daughter Astaria arrived last August), and something had to give. Within six months he was back in the top 25. Casey realised he had been “knackered” for the previous few campaigns. “Chasing your tail off, playing two Tours is hard, especially when you’re outside the world top 50,” he said. Casey had found the answer. Yet even as the upward curve continued, there was a downside. Casey’s Ryder Cup status inevitably became a cause célèbre and Darren Clarke was certain at one stage that he had convinced him to sign up for the 2016 match at Hazeltine. Casey ultimately turned the offer down and then watched on in horror. “It annoyed me and I felt helpless, there on the sofa,” he said. “For the three previous Ryder Cups, I was like, ‘Come on, boys’ when we were on the ropes, but not berating myself, because it hadn’t been my choice I wasn’t there. But this time there was a doubt - if I’d made myself eligible and had qualified, could I have made any difference? I didn’t like that feeling and that’s the main factor for doing this; that and the fact that this might well be my last opportunity to play a Ryder Cup match in Europe. I’ll be, what, 45 in Italy in 2022, that’s a tall ask. So I have to grasp this now and my priority is making that team.” His performance in last week’s EurAsia Cup only whetted his and Europe’s appetite still further. It was his first time back in a blue and gold teamroom in a decade and he “thoroughly enjoyed himself”, as Thomas Bjorn’s young side came from behind to beat Asia. Casey won two out of three points. Now up to No14 in the world, it is difficult not to envisage the 40-year-old at Le Golf National. In the past three seasons, he has racked up four runner-up places and 11 other top five finishes. All that has been missing has been the title, which is baffling considering he was once such a prolific winner - with 17 triumphs worldwide. Paul Casey is determined to play in his first Ryder Cup since defeat under Nick Faldo 10 years ago Credit: REUTERS/Shaun Best “I’m a way better player than I was then and, no matter what anybody says about my Sunday displays, I have better thought processes,” he said. “It’s testament to how strong the PGA Tour is, to have played at the level I have and not won. But golf has changed and I’m having to reinvent myself. "When I was young I played a style of golf that was quite methodical - hit fairways and greens, over and over. But that doesn’t get it done any more. You used to just take the lead on Saturday night and hold on for dear life on Sunday. I remember winning the Benson & Hedges at the Belfry [in 2003] and shooting level par to hold off Padraig [Harrington]. That wouldn’t happen now. You have to get in or around the lead and then go again in the final round, shoot your lights out, and that's the Tiger [Woods] effect, right there. They're doing what he did - going for broke, being super-aggressive. Ten, 15-under every week will earn you a lot of money, but it’s all about the silverware.” Casey has earned more than £8m in the past three seasons and seeing as his caddie of the last two years, John McLaren, who helped Luke Donald reach world No1 in 2011, has accumulated upwards of £500,000, it was quite odd to find Casey apologising to his bagman at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last September. But Casey had led going in the final round at East Lake and had once more seen his trophy ambitions fall short. That’s one way of putting it | Six of the best quotes from the Ryder Cup “I’ve never said sorry on a golf course ever before that” he said. “Yeah, it was an odd blip for me, that. At the final event of the season, they secretly show the top 10 caddie earners that year. Jonny’s made that list the last two years. Otherwise, it’s all been major-winners and FedEx Cup winners and as Jonny said: 'Well we’ve done bloody well seeing as we haven’t won anything yet.' "You could say we are highly-motivated, yes.”
Zach Johnson has played and seen Tiger Woods at his very best, and he wants this younger generation to "have a piece" of that Tiger.
ZJ wants young guys to see Tiger at his best
Zach Johnson has played and seen Tiger Woods at his very best, and he wants this younger generation to "have a piece" of that Tiger.
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Exclusive Rory McIlroy interview: 'It's a different Tiger - he can stun the world once again'
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Exclusive Rory McIlroy interview: 'It's a different Tiger - he can stun the world once again'
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Tiger Woods will attempt to jump start his career again by playing the his first PGA tournament of note since April 2017.
How to watch Tiger Woods' return, at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open
Tiger Woods will attempt to jump start his career again by playing the his first PGA tournament of note since April 2017.
Lindsey Vonn is still rooting for ex Tiger Woods to get his career back on track
Lindsey Vonn is still rooting for ex Tiger Woods to get his career back on track
Lindsey Vonn is still rooting for ex Tiger Woods to get his career back on track
Lindsey Vonn sat down for an interview with Sports Illustrated recently and of course, the topic of her relationship with Tiger Woods came up.
Vonn rooting for 'very stubborn' Woods' comeback
Lindsey Vonn sat down for an interview with Sports Illustrated recently and of course, the topic of her relationship with Tiger Woods came up.
Tiger Woods could give Team Asia a slight advantage at this week’s EurAsia Cup.
Atwal 'picked Tiger's brain' before EurAsia Cup
Tiger Woods could give Team Asia a slight advantage at this week’s EurAsia Cup.
<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

What to Read Next