Lindsey Vonn smiled as she walked into the SoHo House in West Hollywood after the premiere of her documentary, “Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season.” The greatest female ski racer ever is no stranger to life as a celebrity. Earlier in the night she was on a red carpet with Dwayne Johnson and Shaun White, but as she entered her after-party she was flanked by her father, Alan Kildow, and her first ski coach, Erich Sailer, with her mother and siblings trailing them.
“My family with all five siblings and my parents, who are divorced, don’t get together often,” Vonn said. “To have us all at the same place at the same time to experience this together really means a lot. I just wanted them to be here to thank them for everything they’ve done for me.”
Vonn’s documentary, which premieres Tuesday on HBO, offers not only a behind-the-scenes look at her final season but also an unfiltered glimpse at her childhood and her rocky relationship with her father, whom she didn’t talk to for years after she married former U.S. Ski team athlete Thomas Vonn.
“My father being here means a lot because he was my coach growing up and he was the main reason I got to where I got to,” Vonn said. “There was a lot of personal things in the documentary about my family and I don’t know how they all took it, but it was a great night for us as a family.”
The screening this month began with a laugh when Vonn playfully shouted an expletive at the screen as the HBO Sports open included a clip of Tiger Woods, Vonn’s ex-boyfriend. The documentary, directed by brothers Steve and Todd Jones, was supposed to be a celebration of her final season but it quickly turned into a comeback story when she tore the lateral collateral ligament in her left knee in a training crash just three days into shooting.
“It was really difficult to watch the first time,” Vonn said. “I hadn’t seen my dad’s interview and that was the most triggering part of the documentary for me. Hearing him speak and say that he was proud of me. That was really emotional for me. Also reliving the pain that I was going through at the time was hard. I originally had envisioned having an amazing last season and breaking the World Cup win record and having it be my swan song, but the crash totally derailed everything.”
In addition to the documentary, Vonn is releasing a memoir, “Rise: My Story” in March.
“I go into a lot of detail and maybe more than I should about things and I hope my family forgives me,” Vonn said. “I wanted to share my story and I wanted it to be empowering. I want to empower people to overcome adversity and be independent and strong and that’s why I titled it ‘Rise’ because it’s about me overcoming all these things in my life. It’s the documentary on steroids.”
The documentary culminates with Vonn’s dramatic bronze finish in the women’s downhill at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February. It was her final race and made Vonn the first female skier to win medals at six world championships. Nine months into retirement, Vonn, 35, still is trying to find a way to satisfy her urge to compete and go fast.
“I drive my car a bit too fast, unfortunately,” Vonn said. “If you see a Range Rover flying by you in New Jersey, it’s probably me. There’s nothing that replaces skiing or the adrenaline and competitiveness that came with it. It’s a challenge.”
Vonn began dating New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban last year, and the couple announced their engagement in August. Subban wasn’t able to attend the Hollywood premiere of Vonn’s documentary because he had a game that night in Calgary, but Vonn hosted a viewing party in New York for Subban and his teammates Monday.
“I’m so lucky that I found P.K.,” Vonn said. “He’s been such a rock in my life, especially in retirement. . . . I just feel very lucky to have found someone who loves me for me and not as a skier or anything else. He just loves me for me and that’s something that I’ve never found before. I’m looking forward to being his wife and starting a family if we’re lucky enough to be able to do that. This is the start of a big and exciting chapter in my life.”