Lindsey Vonn spreads grandfather's ashes in South Korea, where he served in Army

Lindsey Vonn dedicated her performance at the PyeongChang Olympics to her late grandfather, Don Kildow. And before she heads back to the United States, she made sure to leave part of Kildow in South Korea.

Kildow, who died in November at age 88, served in the Korean War with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He was stationed in Jeongseon, not far from where Vonn competed the past two weeks. She hoped he would return to South Korea for the first time to support her during competition. Instead, Vonn, who won bronze in the women’s downhill, spread some of her grandfather’s ashes near the mountain where the races took place.

“I know that it would mean a lot to him to be back here, a part of him is in South Korea always,” Vonn told the Associated Press.

She chose a specific rock she learned about during a trip to PyeongChang last year:

Vonn said she sprayed parts of Don Kildow’s ashes “just a few days ago” on a rock that she was told was special when she visited South Korea last year to be named a Pyeongchang Olympic ambassador. She described the location as “right by the men’s downhill start.”

Before competition began, Vonn cried after being asked about her grandfather’s influence during a news conference.

“I want so badly to do well for him,” Vonn said. “I miss him so much. He’s been such a big part of my life. And I really had hoped he would be alive to see me. But I know he’s watching. And I know that he’s gonna help me. And I’m gonna win for him.

“It’s not really about me or my career. It’s about my grandfather. I’m just going to lay it all out there. I’m going to give it everything I have. I’m not going to be nervous. I know he’s looking out for me, and I think that actually gives me a lot of peace of mind.”

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan described how Kildow impacted Vonn’s skiing career from a young age:

Her formative years skiing came on the 150-foot hill he built on an old cow pasture in Milton, Wisconsin. He and his wife, Shirley, have a shrine to their granddaughter in their basement. LINDSEY’S SKI DIARY, it says on a shelving unit with 39 binders that chronicle her career from speed-demon girl to the most accomplished female skier in history.

Vonn wrote her grandfather’s initials, “D.K.,” on her helmet during competition. She also wrote the Greek word for “believe” on the thumb of her right glove, another nod to her grandfather, who she paid tribute to in an Instagram post.

After winning bronze in the downhill, Vonn could not return to the medal stand in the slalom in what was likely her final Olympic race.

After Thursday’s race, Vonn was given gifts by a group of elderly South Korean men as a token of gratitude for her grandfather’s service.

From the AP:

Later in the day, a group of elderly South Korean men gave her family some gifts and a letter of thanks to mark her grandfather’s service during the 1950-53 Korean War.

During Thursday’s brief meeting with seven elderly South Korean men, Vonn nodded a greeting several times and repeated “thank you so much” to them. In their letter of appreciation, the South Korean men said they expressed their thanks for what they call her grandfather’s contribution for the freedom of South Korea. They also gave her traditional Korean fashion accessories and gloves.

If PyeongChang is indeed Vonn’s last Olympics (she said she’s 99.9 percent sure it is), she’ll round out her career with three Olympic medals — one gold in downhill (Vancouver) and two bronzes, one in downhill and one in the Super-G (Vancouver).

20 PHOTOS
Lindsey Vonn at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
See Gallery
Lindsey Vonn at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States competes during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States looks on at the finish during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 18: Lindsey Vonn of the United States starts looks on during the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill training on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 18, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn of the United States at a press conference at the Main Press Center on February 9, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States makes a run during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skiier and The United States enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States and Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway fist bump during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States starts a run during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States makes a run during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
USA's Lindsey Vonn takes part in the 2nd training of the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Laurenne Ross (L) speaks with USA's Lindsey Vonn after crossing the finish line of the 2nd training of the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Lindsey Vonn follows the 2nd training of the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States competes during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn (R) of the United States is consoled at the finish during the Ladies Super G Alpine Skiing on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 18: Lindsey Vonn of the United States looks on during the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill training on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 18, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States applauds at the finish during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of USA competes during the Alpine Skiing Women's Super-G at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - USA's Lindsey Vonn reacts after crossing the finish line of the Women's Super-G at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 17, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Dimitar DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: United States alpine skier Lindsey Vonn attends her press conference at the Main Press Centre during previews ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
Alpine Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women?s Downhill Training - Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - The visor of Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. is seen. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story