Today's amazing woman is 26 year old Lindsey Vonn, who yesterday became the first American woman to ever win Oylmpic Gold in downhill skiing. Like so many high achievers, Vonn has a variety of the 17 traits of Self-Empowered Women.
The story began when she was two years old and began skiing (2: An Early Sense of Direction). Her father, Alan Kildow, had been a national junior sky champion before a knee injury put an end to his career.
As a youngster, Vonn became part of renowned Austrian coach Erich Sailer's program and at age ten she met Omympic Gold Medal skier Picabo Street; both served as mentors and role models (4: Supportive Someone).
By the time Vonn was nine, she and Sailer travelled to Europe to train, and soon afterwards she won the North American Junior Champioship and the World Junior Championship (she was the first female to do so). Her father felt that she needed more challenging mountains than those in Minnesota, so at age 11 she and her mother moved to Vail, Colorado. Before she knew it, the family home had been sold and everyone was uprooted to join her in Vail.
By the time Vonn was 17, her brothers, sisters, and parents returned to Minnesota, which essentially meant that (as her mother told the New York Times, "...she had left home already" (14: Selective Disassociation). That was the same time that her parents divorced (1: No Paternal Safety Net).
In addition to all the family drama the teenage skiier was experiencing, her life was complicated when she began dating Thomas Vonn, a former Olympic skier who was almost a decade older. Her coaches were unhappy with her father's input, and her father was upset that she had fallen in live (as a teenager) with a man nine years her senior.
Ultimately, Vonn and her father became estranged and when Lindsey married Thomas, it was her grandfather who walked her down the aisle. She has not spoken to her father since 2006 (14: Selective Disassociation).
Vonn has had more than her share of physical challenges. At the 2010 Olympics her coaches worried about her shin injury, which healed only because warm weather delayed her events and gave her time to mend. But two days before the 2006 women's downhill in Turin, she fell during a practice run while skiing at 60 miles per hour. As she lay in her hospital bed her skin was darkly bruised from her shoulders to her hips and experts predicted that her back and pelvis had been broken and she would need several operations (11: Hard Times). Miraculously, no bones were broken, and Vonn insisted on "...starting a new chapter in my sky career."
From that time onward she began a vigorous training schedule, which included seven hour a day, six day a week workouts (8: Turning No's into Yes'). The 5' 10", 160 pound skier has proven to the world and to herself that determination can make dreams come true.
She told Bill Pennington "...I know that I've worked harder and prepared myself better than anyone (10: The Critic Within)...The Olympics are what I've wanted for myself all my life (7: Magnificent Obsession). Vonn really is America's Golden Girl for the 2010 Olympics.
Looking forward to your comments...