In what will likely be her last Olympic downhill race, U.S. alpine skier Lindsey Vonn won the bronze medal in her best event. At the age of 33, Vonn made history Wednesday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as the oldest Olympic female alpine medalist.
Vonn grew emotional at the end of the race, breaking down as she told reporters that she was sad it was her final downhill race.
“I wish I could keep going; I had so much fun; I love what I do,” she said. “My body just probably can’t take another four years.”
World Champion Sofia Goggia of Italy won gold, while Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway took silver. Goggia became the first female downhill Olympic gold medalist in Italy’s history.
Vonn won gold in the same event in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, though she missed the Sochi Games due to injury. NBC broadcasters repeatedly mentioned that the skier had been waiting eight years for a roughly 100-second race.
“I skied a great race today,” Vonn told reporters afterward. “Sofia just skied better than I did … I have no regrets; I’m really happy; I’m especially happy and proud of my teammates.” She also joked that she was optimistic she’d medal, as there were no snowboarders in the race.
Vonn was referring to Saturday’s super-G event, where she failed to medal after she slid out on the final turn of the course. Instead, 22-year-old Ester Ledecká of the Czech Republic, who is primarily a snowboarder, won a surprise gold.
Vonn was considered the favorite to win Wednesday. She placed well in her training runs and positioned herself within reach of the podium for the final.
The star athlete chose to ski seventh in the lineup to ensure she raced after 25-year-old Goggia, her rival and friend. NBC reporter Steve Porino said Vonn wanted to eliminate the possibility that Goggia would be able to observe Vonn’s run and gain last-minute inspiration for her own run.
The night before the race, Vonn shared an emotional and inspiring message that it would likely be her last downhill at the Olympics, and she’d give it her all.
“I know everyone expects a lot from me, and I expect even more of myself,” she wrote. “However there’s only one thing I can guarantee; I will give everything I have tomorrow. Count on it.”