Lindsey Vonn Wins Bronze in Final Race of Her Professional Career: 'I Conquered' My 'Obstacles'
Lindsey Vonn skied in the women's downhill race at the Alpine Skiing World Championships on Sunday
Lindsey Vonn just skied the final race of her professional Alpine skiing career — and made history while doing it.
After announcing her retirement earlier this month and crashing during a race earlier this week, Vonn won the bronze in the women’s downhill at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, on Sunday.
The medal makes Vonn, 34, the first female skier to win medals at six different world championships, according to ESPN.
“I’m literally tapped out, I can’t cry anymore,” Vonn said, according to the Associated Press. “I want to cry but it’s dry… It’s not an easy thing to feel your bones hitting together and continue to push through it.”
“Of course I’m sore. Even before the crash I was sore. So I’m just sore on top of sore. My neck is killing me,” Vonn said. “But at the end of the day no one cares if my neck hurts; they only care if I win… I knew that I was capable of pushing through the pain one last time and I did that… Every athlete has their own obstacles and I faced mine head-on today and I conquered them.”
Vonn posted a video to her Instagram Story after her final race on Sunday, thanking her fans for their support and showing herself riding in the car with her head out the window to celebrate. “It’s been an amazing day,” she said. “Thank you, everyone, for everything. I’m just in the car now; we’re going to awards and I’m apparently sticking my head out the window!”
“Such a great way to end my career,” she added. “Thank you, everybody!”
Ahead of her final race, Vonn posted on Instagram with a photo and an inspiring message.
“One last time I will stand in the starting gate,” she wrote. “One last time I will feel the adrenaline running through my veins. One last time I will risk it all. One last time… I will remember it forever. Let’s do this!”
Vonn competed in her final Super-G race before retiring earlier in the week, but lost control while mid-air, skiing through a gate, the panel getting stuck on her boots. The athlete was able to ski down the hill before being tended to by onsite medical personnel.
After the race, Vonn told reporters, “I wanted to lay it all out on the line and, I don’t know, the light went out right before I started and I didn’t have the right lenses on… I didn’t see the piece of terrain exactly the way I should have, my skies kind of hooked up and I went straight through the panel.”
She also tweeted about the crash, writing, “If adversity makes you stronger I think I’m the Hulk at this point….”
Vonn initially planned to retire at the end of the 2018-19 season, but her extensive knee injuries forced her to push up her timeline.
In a lengthy Instagram post shared last week, the Olympian announced that following the conclusion of the world championships, she would retire from the sport competitively.
Vonn had previously stated that she wouldn’t retire until she broke the record of the most World Cup wins, currently held by Ingemar Stenmark with 86. Vonn has won 82 World Cup races, and has three Olympic medals — one gold, and two bronze.
Speaking to PEOPLE last fall, Vonn said she is proud of her impressive career — with or without breaking the record.
“I have been saying the past few years that I’ll keep skiing until I break the record, but I’ve come to the realization that my career is not the sum of this record,” Vonn told PEOPLE.
She continued, “I’ve long surpassed the women’s World Cup record and I’ve done things in ski racing that no one’s ever done before, and I’m proud of that and what I’ve accomplished as a whole, and I don’t necessarily need this record to solidify anything or prove anything to myself or anybody else.”