She is, by any measure other than Olympic golds, the most successful American skier in history.
But she competes in a sport that, for most Americans, is measured only in Olympic golds and NBC featurettes.
Context is everything. Injuries prevented Vonn from capitalizing on her greatness, but they shouldn’t obscure her greatness.
Vonn began on the bunny slopes at Buck Hill. Sailer told me before the 2006 Olympics that Vonn initially reminded him of “a turtle,” she was so slow. Vonn reminisced about the “hot chocolate, sprinkled donuts. And Erich.”
After an unofficial graduation from Buck Hill, Vonn moved to Colorado to train, took on the world and often won. She became a star in Europe, a pinup in America, and the primary topic of conversation in the Augusta National gallery when she followed Woods around at the 2013 Masters.
She’s her sport’s Peyton Manning. You have to be historically good to win it all and be asked why you didn’t win it all more often.
In Olympic skiing, timing and health are as important as accomplishment. Vonn was ready for her Olympic close-up only once, but she built a scrapbook that described every great slope from Aspen to the Alps.
She’s probably devastated, but Vonn did pretty well for a little turtle from Buck Hill.
Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • firstname.lastname@example.org