After her debut Olympic performance in 2002, all eyes were on Vonn. She had carved a name for herself as a young skier to watch, and was expected to bring home gold from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Vonn was 21, quite literally on top of the world, and about to have it all come crashing down.
During a practice run before the opening ceremony, Vonn crashed while speeding down a slope at 60 miles-per-hour. She was immediately rushed to the hospital via helicopter, where she remembers the doctors telling her she had probably broken her back. Vonn was devastated, certain this injury would be the one to end her short-lived career. Luckily for Vonn, she was only badly bruised. Despite her injury, she refused to give up her spot on the slopes — she competed in the downhill competition only two days after the crash, finishing in eighth place. Fellow Alpine skier, Alexandra Meissnitzer, told the Washington Post at the time: "She was really one of the girls I would have said would win a medal."
Despite the setback, Vonn remained thankful for the experience, calling it a "mental resetting." As she told The New York Times in 2010, "It was important I got out there. I was starting a new chapter in my ski career right there." You go, girl.