Alpine skier Vonn made her Olympic debut in Salt Lake in 2002—though she made her name at the 2006 games in Torino, where a life-threatening crash during a training run nearly put her out of contention. Riddled with pain in her legs and back, she was released from the hospital and skied in five events, placing as high as seventh and earning the Women’s U.S. Olympic Spirit Award. In 2009, Vonn became the first woman ever to nab two gold medals in speed events at one World Championship.
Olympic inspiration: “Picabo Street. Seeing her ski got me excited about the sport, and then I met her at an autograph signing and it really motivated me to try to be a professional athlete.”
Proudest moment: “Winning my second overall World Cup last season. It was such a crazy year with injuries and the pressure of defending my title, but it was really great for boosting my confidence.”
What's next? “Hopefully in March I'll be trying to secure another World Cup. After that—maybe a little vacation, finally!”