Lindsey Vonn has been back in Vail for a week, marking the longest period of time she’s been anywhere—besides Pyeongchang for the Olympics this February, where she won a bronze medal—for quite some time. But her skis and snow gear, well they’re stowed away—at least for now.
On Thursday night, the 33-year-old was donning a bright pink wig, silver sequin body suit, and platform boots, looking fully the part of party queen for the ’70s Glam Jam Gala, a fundraiser for the Lindsey Vonn Foundation.
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She started her foundation four years ago when she was sidelined with an injury from the Sochi Games. Its mission is to empower young girls in their chosen sports and in life through a series of workshops, called Strong Girl Camps, free community speaker events, and scholarships. So far, the foundation has already supported around 300 young women.
“We’ve definitely been able to touch a lot of people. It’s been exciting,” Vonn says.
The Lindsey Vonn Foundation is a small operation. All staff members other than the director—Vonn’s younger sister, Laura Kildow, who Vonn pays largely out of her own pocket—are volunteers.
“With the infrastructure and funds we have, we’ve been able to do a great job and make it really high-quality, making sure these girls are really impacted,” Vonn says. “I want to teach them about grit, how to be tough and confident, able to set goals for themselves, and not be taken down by bullies. We want them to feel empowered on every level.”
Vonn prides herself on being personally involved in every aspect of the foundation. At Thursday’s gala at Four Seasons Resort in Vail, Vonn personally thanked individual donors as their names came up on the screen during the live auction, periodically taking over emcee duties, and chatting with the audience of about 250 people as if she were in her own living room. That accessibility carries over to the Strong Girl camps, where Vonn speaks to each group and provides individual coaching and support.
“I’m personally at every event that we do. It’s challenging for me to make it work, but that’s something I feel very strongly about … that I need to be there,” Vonn said before Thursday’s event.
As for what’s next for Vonn, she’s attending sponsor events in Colorado and elsewhere in the country over the next few weeks and is planning a tropical vacation with her teammates—many of whom attended the Glam Jam Gala on Thursday—at the end of June. Although she’s put her skis away for the season, she’s expecting to take them out again for on-snow camps this summer.
Vonn is still in the gym every day, doing pull-ups, weight lifting and rapid movement exercises in anticipation of checking off the next—and what will likely also be the last—ski racing goal off her list: becoming the most winning World Cup ski racer in history. With 82 victories to date, she aims to surpass Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86, a feat she hopes to accomplish as early as next season.
“I feel really bad when I don’t work out,” Vonn says, adding that she’s not necessarily scaling back her training now that her final Olympics are behind her. “I think I’ll do a lot of training, I want to say less training, but more quality training and very specific training. I want to make sure I’m maximizing my time so I can be as strong as possible with as little stress on my knee as possible to make it for a couple more years.”