'Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season' Review: The story of a ski racer legend who dodged obstacles of self-doubt and pain and gunned for glory
Detailed, intimate and comprehensive, 'Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season' is a documentary that captures her competing in her final World Championship as well as her rise from child prodigy to a four-time Olympic gold medalist
Remember that iconic and inspiring line in 'The Dark Knight' when Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) tells Alfred (Michael Caine), "I wanted to save Gotham. I failed." Alfred replies, "Why do we fall, sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
Lindsey Vonn was broken— Her knee had given up. There was an immense desire to break one of ski racing's most coveted records, but the body was dented. Self-doubt crept in, and so did pressure.
Not for Vonn. Not one bit. As she grappled an injury that just wouldn't let her get up, Todd and Steve Jones, the creators give a closer and an exclusive look at the life of the decorated skier in 'Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season'.
Vonn had one target: To break Swedish slalom racer Ingemar Stenmark's total of 86 World Cup wins, and the electric form that she was in, four wins was all that was needed and it wasn't out of reach. However, November 2018 saw her hurt her knee ahead of the season's first downhill competition.
The documentary chronicles her journey as she tries to fight her return to the World Cup and hoped to end her successful, legendary career on a high. What results is a 90- minute documentary that is detailed, intimate and comprehensive.
It starts off with footage of Vonn injuring herself on a practice run. The severity of the injury is known only when she checks in at the hospital and the news isn't something she wants to hear.
Six weeks of recovery was bad news. In January, she makes the arduous trip to a World Cup downhill event in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, where she broke the record for women's overall wins in 2015.
The race goes well as she finishes behind Mikaela Shiffrin, the next best new generation ski racer after Vonn. But for someone who has won all her life, this one's hard and is heartbreaking when she weeps.
She contemplates hanging up her boots and why not? Her body is riddled with countless fractures, worn cartilages and stitches. Rehab is a painful process when you treat your body like that of a superhero and yet, Vonn is shown to have done it. Time and again.
Not now. Not when she's inches away from taking that epic record. Not when she's got a hidden reason— Earn the respect of a father, a former skier himself. Alan Kildow didn't have the best of a father-daughter relationship with Vonn.
Vonn fell out with her dad after marrying Thomas Vonn, her first husband. She never spoke to Kildow for six years and all that she had for support was her mother. Vonn and Thomas split in 2011 and that's when the first steps of reconciliation were taken.
The relationship is traced perfectly as the documentary also shows that Kildow was her guiding force back in the day. He was a taskmaster.
After the accident at Cortina, Vonn is ready to throw in the towel. The psyche of an athlete is narrated beautifully as Vonn says she's doing everything she can.
"It just shows you. It's like any other athlete. You're a commodity. When you extinguish your usefulness, they move on to the next one." The only comfort Vonn has at this stage is Lucy, her pet Spaniel.
Again, it's the fuelling desire to win that creeps in as Vonn prepares for the World Championships. The knee is done — A damaged peroneal nerve, not Vonn though as she keeps going despite suffering a brutal crash in a super-G race that also sees her walk around with a black eye.
This time the doubts come in from the people around her. A reporter's question stings. And for Vonn, it's probably worse than the knee or the crash. She bluntly responds: "Who said I won't win?"
She announces that Åre is her final race and this time, you can see the burden that's lifted. A heavily strapped knee and some iron will see her finish third as she grabs her eighth World Championships medal and retires a champion— 82 wins and Stenmark will hold his record.
Vonn may not have won, but she's content. She's happy as she gets ready for a new chapter of her life. "I'm excited for the future. I've cried enough tears, and now it's time to enjoy it."
An athlete's frame of mind as most would say may come across as indestructible. However, it is a different story with 'Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season'.
This is a side of Vonn that makes her more human, even if her neoprene suit is an actual version of Captain America's suit. She's vulnerable, she bleeds and cries and losses hurt. If anything, the documentary is inspirational, breathtaking and a must-watch for ski racing fanatics.
'Lindsey Vonn: The Final Season' airs on HBO GO and HBO NOW on November 26 at 10 pm ET and will be available on demand from November 27.