For Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal, the world championships beginning this week in Are, Sweden, will mark the end of an era.
The event will also bring Vonn and Svindal full circle – back to the site of their first major championship successes more than a decade ago.
Vonn claimed the first medals of her career, two silvers, at the frigid 2007 worlds in Are , while Svindal claimed his first golds a dozen years ago by winning the downhill and giant slalom.
Both went on to become overall World Cup and Olympic champions and two of skiing’s most well-spoken ambassadors.
“It’s always been a good place for me. I’ve always felt comfortable there,” said Vonn, who has also won seven World Cup races in Are. “It’s a good place to have my last world championships. I’m really excited to go back up there.”
The 34-year-old Vonn announced on Friday that due to her battered knees, she will retire after competing in the super-G and downhill in Are.
And while she will end up four wins short of the all-time World Cup record of 86 held by Ingemar Stenmark, Vonn still plans a tribute to the Swedish standout.
“I have a cool suit that I kind of designed in honor of Stenmark,” Vonn said.
The 36-year-old Svindal, also slowed by persistent knee injuries, recently announced that he, too, will retire after worlds , and there are sure to be plenty of his Norwegian fans who hop across the border to see him race for the last time.
“Did you book your tickets to the world championships in Are?? If not, get on it!!” Svindal wrote on Instagram . “One of the absolutely greatest of all times Lindsey Vonn, she’s doing her last races here next week. And when we’re both done, I’m pretty sure there will be a hell of a party to celebrate.”
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