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Lindsey Vonn Wins Bronze Medal in Final Career Race; 'I Laid It All on the Line'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2019

Third placed United States' Lindsey Vonn celebrates on the podium after the women's downhill race, at the alpine ski World Championships in Are, Sweden, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)
Giovanni Auletta/Associated Press

Lindsey Vonn ended her career in style Sunday, winning a bronze medal in the downhill at the world Alpine championships in Are, Sweden.

Team USA @TeamUSA

The perfect ending to an unprecedented run. @lindseyvonn captures a world championships medal in the final race of her career. #Are2019 https://t.co/VW4PTwpssI

"I laid it all on the line; that was all I wanted to do today," she said after the race, per Cindy Boren of the Washington Post. "I have to admit I was a bit nervous, probably the most nervous I've ever been in my life. I wanted to finish strong so badly. I had a really hard time controlling my nerves, and I never have a hard time with that. I'm just happy I made it to the finish."

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

An incredible final run for @lindseyvonn as she soars into first place by .33 seconds! #are2019 https://t.co/PahJ5xsJ5u

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team @usskiteam

.@lindseyvonn greeted by legend Ingemar Stenmark 🇸🇪 in the finish area with flowers. 💐 Two legends unite!! @Are2019 #are2019 https://t.co/Y0jZ9MgWRO

Vonn was briefly in first place after her run, though Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia—the winner at the 2017 worlds—took home the gold, and Switzerland's Corinne Suter won silver.

It was fitting that Vonn would end her career in Are, as she won her first two medals on the same course at the world championships in 2007.

Her bronze Sunday was her eighth career medal at the world championships (which included two golds in 2009). She also has three medals at the Olympics, including a gold medal in the downhill in 2010.

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As Boren noted, Vonn is "one of only seven women to have won World Cup races in all five major disciplines of Alpine skiing—downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined." Only Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark ever won more World Cup races (86) than Vonn (82).

Not surprisingly, the tributes were plentiful:

Team USA @TeamUSA

The slopes will never be the same. Thank you, @lindseyvonn. #Are2019 https://t.co/0mFJFMjEXa

Mikaela Shiffrin @MikaelaShiffrin

When you close out your career with a World Champs medal 👏🏻🎉👏🏻🎉👏🏻 Big congrats to @lindseyvonn for a perfect final run💪💪 @Are2019

Tim Layden @SITimLayden

Lindsey Vonn could have made her last ski race a ceremonial glide. Or she could have crashed on surgical knees. She didn’t. She won a bronze medal in downhill at the World Championships. A last example of why she is the greatest women’s ski racer in history

The fact that Vonn even raced Sunday was a triumph after she crashed in the super-G last week and suffered, in her own words, "just a black eye, sore ribs and stiff neck."

Injuries are nothing new, though.

"My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of," she wrote in an Instagram post Feb. 1. "My body is screaming at me to STOP and it's time for me to listen."

She seemed at peace with that decision.

"I left everything I've got on the hill. There's nothing left," she said. "I wish there was, but today is not a sad day. Today I get to thank every one of you who took this ride with me. And I get to go up to the top one more time, to do what I've always done: Risk it all. It's all or nothing."

It was one more moment of greatness in a career full of them.

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