WITH boyfriend Tiger Woods watching on the internet back in Florida where it was 5am, mum, dad and younger sister Laura were among the first to offer congratulations to Lindsey Vonn in person. Grandfather Don, meanwhile, can finally add the crowning achievement to his detailed multi-volume scrapbook collection on the family’s star skier.
The American had plenty of loved ones to turn to when she equalled Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell’s 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins with a downhill victory in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, yesterday.
In that sense, the latest milestone in a career filled with achievements was somewhat different.
“It means a lot,” Vonn said. “Both my parents haven’t been able to come to any World Cups. My mother because she couldn’t afford it and my father because we weren’t speaking for a long time. And now I feel like everything is great with my family and, to have my mum come to her first European World Cup and see my 62nd win is something very special.”
Vonn was estranged from her father, Alan Kildow, while she was married to the former skier Thomas Vonn. But father and daughter repaired their relationship after Vonn separated from Thomas three years ago.
“It’s nice that I can finally share these experiences with them,” Vonn said. “And also have it be historical moments for myself and for the sport. To share that with them is very special.”
Vonn’s family – dad Alan, stepmother Terri Kildow, mum Lindy Lund, stepfather Todd Lund and sister Laura Kildow – joined her on the podium to celebrate.
While Vonn said she still considered her gold medal in downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as her top career achievement, mum didn’t agree.
“I’m very proud of her,” she said. “It’s a lifetime achievement. It’s better than winning a gold medal.
“It’s much bigger. It’s huge. She has won every event. You can’t just be a slalom skier to do this.”
Sister Laura, who is studying abroad in Florence, explained how their grandfather keeps an extensive collection of press clippings covering Vonn’s career. “He has 38 or 39 volumes,” Laura Kildow said. “Usually, Lindy texts or emails Vonn before each race, most of which take place in the middle of the night or very early morning back in the United States.
“Then I call Don and Shirley – her grandparents – and see what number she runs,” she said. “And I call them after each race and I see how she has done. Every race all season.”
Vonn has two other sisters and a brother – triplets – who did not make the trip.
Woods also couldn’t come, as he’s practising for a tournament later this month in his return from a back injury. But he was watching and sent Vonn a congratulatory message.
“He said, ‘Good job,’ and he’s proud of me,” Vonn said. “He was watching with his daughter Sam, so they were up early in the morning.”
So might this record inspire Woods to revive his golf career and reach Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships? Woods has been stuck at 14 since 2008.
“He’s a pretty determined guy,” Vonn said. “I don’t think he needs any inspiration from me.
“He’s been working really, really hard and I’m looking forward to watching him come back, because he has put a lot of work into it and I’m sure he’s going to be back on top soon.”
Vonn added that Woods is planning to attend some of her races at next month’s world championships in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
“It’s tough to have two athletes competing at the same time, but he’s definitely going to make something work,” she said.
Woods has already made a good impression on Vonn’s mum.
“I’ve met him,” Lindy Lund told reporters. “Nice guy. I like him.”
Vonn’s father first came to Europe for races in Bad Kleinkircheim last weekend, but those events were cancelled due to difficult weather conditions in the Austrian resort.
Vonn then finished tenth in a downhill on Friday, and had to wait a little longer when Saturday’s race was postponed to yesterday. She can break Moser-Proell’s record in a super-G scheduled for today.
“I’m very proud of her,” Alan Kildow said. “She held up under the pressure. It’s been a long two weeks.”