"From a personal standpoint, everything in my life has changed," she says. "I love it!"
In the three-and-a-half years since Lindsey Vonn took home gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, life’s been eventful, to say the least – with America’s most-decorated alpine skier skillfully enduring both ups and downs.
For starters last February, Vonn shattered her right knee in a devastating crash during a World Cup race in Austria, then spent seven grueling months rehabbing it – and assures PEOPLE she’ll be ready for the 2014 Sochi Games.
But perhaps her most dramatic journey has taken place off the slopes.
“From a personal standpoint, everything in my life has changed. It’s a complete 180 in a short period of time,” Vonn tells PEOPLE while on a workout break at a gym in her Vail, Colo., home base.
“I went from being married to living on my own in L.A., to having a new boyfriend and just being totally self-sufficient and super independent,” she adds. “It’s awesome. I love it!”
“There’s really nothing about him that bothers me,” she says, adding with a laugh: “He doesn’t even leave the seat up! It’s awesome.”
The two met at a charity event in spring 2012 and became a couple that fall .
Meanwhile, Vonn is thrilled to be reaching a much-anticipated milestone this weekend: She’ll be back on the slopes for the first time since her accident.
“I leave for Chile on Friday and I’ll be on the snow on Monday!” she says. “It’s probably going to be slower than I want it to be. … But I’m really excited just to be out there, to be in the mountains, to be going fast again.”
And when it comes to going to Sochi, will Tiger be there, too? “We’re going to see how his schedule goes, but he’s hoping to come,” she says. “He’s kind of a fish out of water in the cold weather. It’s going to be really cute!”