Lindsey Vonn hit the slopes in Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics carrying the memory of her biggest supporter, her late grandfather Don Kildow.
Vonn gave NBC a tour of her grandparents’ home in Milton, Wisconsin, ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics. When staying at their home, Vonn sleeps on a sofa in the basement, but she doesn’t mind it.
“Lucy [the dog] and I are quite content on the couch,” she said before showing off the “Lindsey Vonn Ski Diaries,” a series of binders her grandparents kept to document her road to the Olympics.
Korea wasn’t unknown to Vonn’s grandfather, who served our nation in South Korea during the Korean War. He built roads in the country as part of the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Now that the Olympics are coming up, it’s kind of a trip down memory lane and we are talking about where he was stationed, and it’s actually pretty close to where I will be racing,” Vonn said, holding her grandfather’s hand. “It’s nice to be able to talk about these stories with him now, and I’ve learned a lot about it that I didn’t know before.”
Upon returning to Milton, Kildow built the city’s first ski slope in a cow pasture.
“We picked up all of the droppings from the cows,” he laughed. That’s where the family fell in love with the sport. Kildow, a competitive ski jumper, went on to teach his son how to be a ski racer on that very hill. Vonn later picked it up.
“We would do family trips and grandma and grandpa would teach us how to ski,” Vonn remembered. “We would try to see who was the fastest. I won most of the time, right, Grandpa?”
He laughed, “Always.”
Vonn wanted her grandfather at this year’s Winter Games to support her, but he passed away before they started. She is still carrying his memory in her heart.
On Wednesday, Vonn took home the bronze medal in her final Olympic downhill race.