The 2018 Winter Games may not have gone the way Lindsey Vonn anticipated, but she got something invaluable out of going to Pyeongchang: a proper resting place for her deceased grandfather Don Kildow, a Korean War veteran that Vonn dedicated her performance in these Games to.
Vonn took bronze in the downhill in what may well be her last Olympic Games, but it may go down as her most memorable Olympic appearance nonetheless.
"I know that it would mean a lot to him to be back here; a part of him is in South Korea always," Vonn said to the Associated Press.
According to her, she scattered her grandfather's ashes a few days ago. He died in November, but Vonn felt that she achieved something in his name at these Games.
"To be able to race for him in these Olympics was very special for me. And I tried everything I could to win for him," she said, per ESPN. "I got a bronze, which, you know, to me was very special. And I think he would be proud of that."
Vonn's combined run ended prematurely, with her burning out in the slalom portion. Her father was in attendance. Alan Kildow said that he scattered his father's ashes as well, in a separate part of the country, and that his father had also been "very favorable" towards the country.
After her runs, men from a fraternity society in Seoul called the Yongsan Club met with Vonn. The elderly South Korean men gave Vonn's family gifts and a letter that gave thanks for her grandfather's service during the war, which ran from 1950-53 and ended in an armistice.
"We were starving and we truly suffered lots of difficulties," said Yongsan Club member Kim Soung Soo on his experience during the war, per ESPN. "Given that South Korea's economic prosperity wouldn't be possible without the support from the United States and other U.N. member states, we determined we must hold this kind of event to express our gratitude toward them."
For Vonn, it was undoubtedly an experience she'd never forget. Being at the Olympics is one thing. But competing with the context surrounding her adds a whole new weight to the 2018 Games, whether it's her last run or not.
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