Lindsey Vonn Scatters Ashes of Beloved Grandfather Near Course Where She Won Bronze
The decorated skier, 33, vowed to give the women’s alpine downhill final on Tuesday everything she had to reclaim her Olympic title — and broke down in tears when she medaled for the first time in eight years. But South Korea has even more of a significance for Vonn, who won bronze.
She recently revealed that she scattered the ashes of her late grandfather, Don Kildow, near the men’s downhill course. Her beloved grandfather, who passed away in November, was often on her mind because he was stationed near PyeongChang during the Korean War when he was building roads as an Army Corps of Engineers.
“I know that it would mean a lot to him to be back here, a part of him is in South Korea always,” Vonn told the Associated Press, adding that she dispersed parts of his ashes “just a few days ago” on a rock that she was told was special when she visited South Korea last year to be named a PyeongChang Olympic ambassador.
“To be able to race for him in these Olympics was very special for me. And I tried everything I could to win for him. I got a bronze, which, you know, to me was very special. And I think he would be proud of that,” Vonn said.
On Thursday, she reportedly had a meeting with seven elderly South Korean men who presented her with a letter of appreciation. In it, they expressed their thanks for what they called her grandfather’s contribution for the freedom of South Korea. Vonn also received several traditional Korean fashion accessories and gloves.
Days before earning bronze, Vonn dedicated her competition to her grandfather, who had first taught her to ski.
“I have an extra piece of mind knowing that I have a guardian angel. I’ve never really been into that stuff, but I love my grandpa so much and I have to believe that he’s still around and he’s looking out for me,” she told Today.
Before his death, Vonn was able to reflect on her accomplishments with her grandfather in an interview with NBC.
“My heart doesn’t stop,” he told his granddaughter when asked how he felt when he watched her compete. “The pictures, they’re all on file. Someday she’ll want them,” he said as he pointed to the many scrapbooks and photo diaries he’d put together that chronicled Vonn’s career.
Though Vonn has said in the past that South Korea would mark her final Olympics, she suggested to the hosts that there’s at least a slight possibility she would return for another Games.
“Who knows what’ll happen in four years? It’s a long time from now, but I’m gonna soak it in as if it were my last. Maybe it’s not and maybe it will be, but I’ve given it my best shot,” the athlete said. “I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. This has definitely been the most amazing experience for me in all of my Olympic experiences because of how amazing the team has been.”
However, she also hinted that the possibility of motherhood could alter those plans when the Today hosts noted that she made history as the oldest female U.S. alpine Olympian.
“It’s kind of weird. I think for women, we just don’t have that longevity in ski racing because it’s so hard on the body and because eventually we want to start having kids. You can’t compete and have kids at the same time — it just doesn’t work,” she said.
The Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.
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Published Date: Friday, February 23rd, 2018 | 11:45 AM