Lindsey Vonn, at the age of nine, had a life-changing day.
She first met Picabo Street at an event in a local ski store, and then she met the American woman champion who signed a post for her. She then ran into Diann Steinrotter, an Olympic champion who was less friendly.
"I asked (from Roffe Steinrotter) for an autograph, and she said no. "I had both a positive and negative experience on the same day," Roffe-Steinrotter told Investor's Business Daily.
Vonn, despite her young age and brief encounter with Roffe Steinrotter, refused to let her experience embitter her. She said that, on the contrary "it was always in my mind." "Whenever I encountered a child, fan, or anyone who supported me as a skiing racer, I tried to be like Picabo: positive and inspiring. "Someone, you know kids could look up."
In her memoir "Rise" she said of her meeting with Street: "That was the moment that pushed me to the limit in terms my motivation and drive."
She was able to reach the summit of the world ski racing because she had the motivation and drive. Vonn, who was 38 when she retired in 2019, won three Olympic medals including the first downhill gold for an American woman. She won 82 World Cup events, the most of any American until recently. She is considered one of the best skiers in history.
Lindsey's desire to become an Olympic skier was announced shortly after she met Street. Her skier father warned her, "You won't get there unless you do what others don't." He said, "You'll miss sleepovers." You will miss the prom. You will miss out on a lot that other kids don't.
Lindsey accepted the challenge. Practice.
It takes a lot of practice. Many people use the 10,000 hour model. "But I would say that I did much more than that," said she, in response to the theory that 10,000 hours are needed to master a challenging activity.
She said that to reach the elite World Cup level, it takes more than just running down a hill. In addition, it takes hours spent in the gym to build strength and endurance. She said, "If you're going to improve on the slopes and in the gym, you need to do both."
Vonn began running long distances every weekend, in addition to skiing. What 12-year-old would want to run a mile each weekend? "No one", she replied. "But I have inherited the mentality of my father and grandfather. You do the necessary work to accomplish your goal. "You work hard and don't complain."
Sue Dorf, one Vonn's WME Sports co-managers, told IBD that "Lindsey’s work ethic is unmatched." She is the first one to arrive and last to leave."
Vonn continued to practice methodically, even at the end of her professional career. "The older you become as a skier, the less you can do. You must continue to train. "After my injuries, I was only able to do three or four downhill runs a day. In the past, I used to run six or seven.
But to be successful at the World Cup, you need more than just practice. She said that when you reach the elite level, every athlete has a level of talent, strength and athleticism. She said that to be at the top, you need to have a high level of mental strength, as well as a willingness to take risks.
Confidence is key. "I believed I could win every time I stood in the starting gate."
Mark Ervin, Vonn’s other WME co-manager, says this: "She puts oxygen right behind winning."
Vonn's willingness to innovate and try new things was another thing that set her apart from the rest. She began to practice on longer and more difficult runs alongside male World Cup racers. She switched to men's skiing because she was mentally and physically strong.
She was the very first woman to accomplish this feat and as she recalls, "people thought that I was crazy." They laughed and said that I would never be able ski on men’s skis. "But I knew what worked for me, and I realized that I didn't have to get approval from anyone else."
The criticism in this no-holds barred era of social media wasn't just limited to the equipment she chose. She said, "I was told a lot of the time that I was doing things wrong, like the way I conducted an interview or the way I applied makeup while skiing." Everyone had an opinion and, I would say, most of them were not positive. "But I can't alter who I am."
Vonn has stopped caring about what others think. She said, "I believe positive reinforcement is essential in all walks of life and not just sports." "I listened to people who supported and understood me, and I tried to learn from those who were critical of me. When someone hurt me, I used it as motivation. "I used it to fuel my race, carried it around with me and used when the time came."
She felt the pressure to succeed and stay at the top. In 2012, she admitted that she suffered from depression. At the time, this was something very few people did. Many people warned me to keep it a secret, fearing that I would lose sponsorships. It was a very important part of my life.
She was happy she did. "I felt enormous relief when I spoke about it publicly. She said that the weight was lifted off her back.
When asked if she had any advice for her younger self she replied: "I get this question quite often. I would not tell my younger self to do anything differently. "Learning to be" involves making mistakes, failing, and facing obstacles.
Her career flourished both on and off the skis, even after this public admission. Her father instilled the importance of a life off the skis. He said, "You need to be business-savvy."
Vonn's dad was proud of the fact that he became an attorney after his skiing career was cut short due to injury. She said, "He told that I needed to have a back-up." If I wanted to be an athlete, I could not just ski.
Vonn began to prepare early and took the advice very seriously. She has been advising sports marketing companies and venture capitalists since she retired.
Ervin of WME notes that Vonn "approaches her new life just like she did when she was racing." She is never satisfied and keeps a relentless pace. She is a woman of excellent instincts and innate curiosity. She works hard to educate herself."
Vonn compares her experience in venture capital with her time on the ski slopes. She said that both venture capital and skiing have a certain element of challenge.
She didn't even know what she would be like without skiing. She admits, at first, that her retirement "left me with a huge hole in my mind and life." That's past.
Vonn's response when asked who she is today was: "I am just Lindsey. A person who is happy. "My biggest goal is to create a positive legacy that people can use as inspiration."
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The article Lindsey Vonn's Positive Attitude Keeps Her On Peaks And Out Of Valleys first appeared on Investor's Business Daily.