For years the description usually found either right before or right after Lindsey Vonn’s name has been some version of “Olympic skier.”
It’s a years-long career that has taken her all over the world, bringing her a historic number of successes (including Olympic bronze and gold medals).
Skiing has also been destroying her body, race by race, crash by crash, for years — ensuring her fourth Olympic appearance, at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, will be her last.
With the end of competition on Sunday, the world meets now-former Olympian Lindsey Vonn, which she sounds okay with.
“I would just like to be remembered as something more than just a ski racer,” she tells PEOPLE in a sit-down at the Procter & Gamble Family Home on Saturday, two days after her final Olympic event and one day before the closing ceremonies in Pyeongchang.
“I’ve tried to be a good role model and I have my foundation and I’ve tried to give back as much as I can, and ski racing is what I’ve done but it’s not who I am,” Vonn says, “and I think I’m just kind of realizing that now, so hopefully people can see that as well.”
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“I mean there’s a lot of me that I’ve shared, but there’s also a lot that I haven’t shared,” she says, “and I think most of my life has been about ski racing, obviously, until now. So we’ll see how that transforms the next few years and how it shapes up, but there’s definitely a lot of layers to me and to my personality and who I am, so hopefully I get a chance to share that.”
Her long-term future is a bit hazy — maybe she’ll act, she wonders aloud, before joking that maybe her dog Lucy will act and she’ll work as her agent. (Sponsored by P&G’s Bounty, she jokes she was glad to work with them because, with the messes her dogs make, “I needed a fresh new stock.” )
Vonn does, however, have immediate post-Olympics plans.
“I’m going to go back to L.A. and be home with my sister for a little bit and enjoy some downtime, and then I have one more race at World Cup finals in Sweden,” she says. “I’ll have about two weeks off, so it’ll be nice.”
(“I’m pretty much going to Postmates some Ben & Jerry’s and binge-watch Law & Order for a while,” she says.)
All along these Games Vonn has kept up her usual social media presence, documenting the highs and lows of her journey, responding to both supporters and critics. (Some of her detractors were motivated by her recent political opinions, including say she would not accept an invitation, if extended, to visit the White House.)
“I definitely have gotten a lot, a lot of support and a lot of great messages and it’s been really nice to receive that,” Vonn says, “and definitely a lot of hate as well but that’s social media and I try to just remember who I am and stay true to my positive message and continue to share my life.”
With her bronze medal last week in the women’s downhill ski race, Vonn became the oldest female alpine medalist.
Before her race, her ex-boyfriend Tiger Woods emailed her good luck. She says the two “stay in touch,” though she’s been too busy recently to check her emails and see if he reached out again after her recent victory.
“I’m happy that he’s back competing and we’re supportive of each other,” she says.
Vonn laughs at the idea, in her 30s, of being the “oldest” anything, “but it’s a record, I’ll take it, I don’t mind.”
“It’s nice to be able to prove that I’m still competitive even after everything … this old lady still has the fire and I can still fight and I can still be right in there with the best of them,” she says. “And it’s nice to also have the respect of the younger girls as well, they have really been amazing to compete against.”
Eight, 10, 12 years ago, before the injuries piled up on her, Vonn says she “never have imagined that I accomplished so much, that I’ve crashed so much, that I’ve endured so much physically and mentally and emotionally.”
“But I think all of the setbacks and all of the crashes have made me a stronger person and I wouldn’t change that,” she says. “I think once I’m done with ski racing, I’ll have a much different appreciation for my journey thus far and the fact that I know that I can overcome any obstacle that’s put in my path.”
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When she gets back to L.A., Vonn, who has been traveling since Jan. 1, says she is “really excited” for the change in perspective that will be required by the change in scenery. (She isn’t dating anyone at the moment.)
“I’ve been so tunnel-vision on the Olympics for so long, and it’s been really difficult with relationships and just any sort of personal life whatsoever,” she says. “So it’s going to be nice to actually have some time to myself and not be so single-minded for once.”
Vonn doesn’t put a set timeline on finishing her skiing career, though it likely won’t extend to 2022. Already the winningest female ski racer of all time, her goal is to top the record for World Cup victories by any ski racer, man or woman. She is six away.
Even talking about that, though, she makes no promises about her end.
“That record is the main thing that I want to get to, but I think just mainly depends on my body,” she says. “If I can keep skiing and keep winning and not be in excruciating pain all the time, then I definitely think I’ll keep going as long as I can.”