PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — It’s unlikely the bronze medal Lindsey Vonn won in the women’s downhill Wednesday at the 2018 Winter Olympics will end up prominently displayed by her father, Alan Kildow.
Watching at the bottom of the hill, Kildow broke into wry grin moments after Vonn crossed the finish line .09 seconds behind Italy’s Sofia Goggia, who won the gold. (Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel later overtook Vonn, who finished third in a race she was favored to win.)
“It’s great skiing, but it reminds me of something that Buddy Werner used to say,’’ Kildow told USA TODAY Sports, referring the U.S. Alpine skier who raced in the 1950s and 1960s. “He said there’s two places in the race, first and last, and I only want one of them.’’
With his two other daughters nearby and spectators around him cheering for Vonn, Kildow watched intently as Vonn sped down the mountain — not aggressively enough, according to Kildow.
“She needed to go for it a little bit more,’’ he said. “She needed to risk more.’’
Where on the slope?
“Between the start and the finish,’’ Kildow replied with a grin.
“Just little, little spots,’’ he added. “Just not quite risking enough. Not straightening the line out, just the ski was little … not quite carving in some places like it should have. But a great result. A great result.’’
Vonn, by contrast, she said she was "extremely proud'' to be on the Olympic podium. And during her post-race news conference, she mentioned her father when expressing gratitude for her family having attended the race.
“It’s very special to have them here, especially my dad,'' Vonn said. "You know, he wasn’t at the 2010 Olympics. We had some rough times. But he’s here and he’s able to see me win a bronze.''
Although Vonn has talked about these Olympics likely being her last, Kildow made it clear he would like his 33-year-old daughter to focus on extending her career.
Vonn said she doesn’t think her surgically repaired right knee will hold up until the 2022 Games in Beijing, but Kildow cited Roger Federer, 36, when asked about Vonn’s future. (Though no longer at his peak, Federer won Wimbledon in 2017 and won the Australian Open in 2017 and again this year.)
“You get to that age, so long as you can compete at a high level, keep going,’’ Kildow said. “You’re not going to be able to win as consistently as you did, you’re not going to be able to win as many tournaments or ski races. Pick your spots, get yourself in good condition and ski well.
“You look at sports medicine today. You look at Tom Brady and all the quarterbacks and people that are extending their careers forever. The key is the conditioning that they have today. People really understand conditioning and you have the sports medicine, the physical therapists.’’
With 81 World Cup victories, Vonn needs just six more victories to break the all-time record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. She has has three Olympic medals — a gold in the downhill in 2010, a bronze in the Super-G in 2010 and now the bronze in the 2018 downhill.
She’ll have a shot at one more medal Thursday in the women’s combined. Kildow said he’ll be there to watch and he made it clear he thinks he could be watching his daughter compete for quite some time.
“And I think she understands now that she can’t compete in every race,’’ he said. “That you’ve got to be very selective.’’