Vonn channels competitive spirit in business ventures

Vonn channels competitive spirit in business ventures

One of the fastest women on the slopes, alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn hasn't slowed down since she announced her retirement 1 February 2019.

After winning three Olympic medals (one gold and two bronze) and more than 80 World Cup races, enduring numerous painful injuries and countless surgeries, Vonn realised it was time to call it quits: "My body is screaming at me to STOP, and it's time for me to listen," she posted on her Facebook page following her final competition in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Ten months later, Vonn has entered a new and exciting chapter. A documentary about her life, titled Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season, debuts 26 November on HBO. She is writing her memoir, Rise, to be published in 2020. She runs the Lindsey Vonn Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation focused on empowering young girls. She's recently engaged to hockey star P.K. Subban, of the New Jersey Devils. And she's working on a new cosmetics business (name not yet disclosed), set to launch next spring.

She discussed these topics and more at the AICPA's Women's Global Leadership Summit, held 6–8 November in San Diego. The annual event was created to help accountants and finance professionals learn new ideas about leadership, management, technology, and careers. Vonn, with her competitive and entrepreneurial spirit, spoke about perseverance to a room full of attendees.

A self-described adrenaline junkie, Vonn said of her new business venture: "I need goals and need to always be looking forward. I ... needed something that was going to capture my attention and challenge me in a new way."


Minnesota-born Vonn claims her work ethic and drive come from her grandfather, who exuded toughness and fortitude. "He documented everything that happened in my life," she said at the leadership summit. "My aunts and uncles said he was living for me. It was a lot to have on my shoulders but also gave me a lot of inspiration." She also received motivation from her parents, who travelled with her to ski competitions and sacrificed so she could continue her training.

Today, she noted, she receives inspiration from influential women — often CEOs like Mary Dillon, of Ulta Beauty — who have proved their success, women who "are driven and work hard and don't take no for an answer," she said. "We're all working hard and making gains in our field, and it is important that we get together and share those experiences and build each other up because we can't do it alone."

An unexpected turn of events

Vonn was elated when approached about the documentary, highlighting her success as an athlete. She still had competitions ahead of her. "Four days into my shooting, I tore my ACL in my left knee and, definitely, the storyline took a huge turn," she said at the event.

What followed for Vonn were emotions and uncertainty. "I can't even watch the trailer as it makes me cry," she added.

In her final season, Vonn suffered a knee injury while training in Colorado, and then later that year hurt her knee and calf when training in Italy. She ended her career with a third-place finish in the downhill competition in Åre, Sweden, securing her eighth World Championships medal.

"At the end it wasn't really a hard choice," she said at the event of her retirement. "It took me a while to accept it."

Becoming an entrepreneur

Vonn was known for wearing makeup when she skied and was often mocked as a result when on tour. "I feel more confident when I have makeup on," she said at the leadership summit. "When you leave your house, you have to put your best foot forward."

Her goal is to create a simple line of cosmetics and as a result she has partnered with Chase Ink, a Los Angeles dermatologist, and other experts to design a footprint she hopes will be successful. "It's my brand and my company, and I take full ownership in what's being created," she noted. "I test it on myself and my sisters."

For now, she's focusing on product development, marketing, and social media prior to the line's launch in the spring of 2020.

The Lindsey Vonn Foundation

Lindsey Vonn unveiled her not-for-profit foundation in March 2015, with one primary mission: to provide positive engagement and energy to young girls through camps, athletics, and education. She attends all camps, which so far have been held in Minneapolis, Baltimore, New York City, and other locales.

At the camps, they talk about cyber bullying and how to be financially independent, she noted. And her foundation provides scholarships to deserving girls in need.

"It's a privilege to be an athlete and be in the position that I am in," she told audience members. "And it's a waste if I don't use it in a positive way."

— Cheryl Meyer is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Sabine Vollmer, an FM magazine senior editor, at