"Why my last Winter Olympics was about so much more than medals"

"Why my last Winter Olympics was about so much more than medals"

 An emotional moment following the women's super-G at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 17, 2018. Christophe Ena / AP

An emotional moment following the women's super-G at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 17, 2018. Christophe Ena / AP

By Lindsay Vonn

I did everything I went to South Korea to do: I skied my heart out, I skied for my grandfather and I enjoyed every second of being part of Team USA.

The 2018 Winter Olympics was a completely different experience than any of my previous Olympics games. Knowing that I was trying to win a medal for my grandfather — who died in November and whose ashes I spread in South Korea — was very emotional. This is something that I've been dealing with since he passed away.

But also knowing that it was my last Olympics pushed me to enjoy every second of it — from an athletic perspective, but also from an individual perspective. Spending time with my teammates. Going to the opening and closing ceremonies. Really running the whole gambit. I wanted to make sure that I had a meaningful last Olympics, whether I won an Olympic medal or not.

There is just something so special about being a part of Team USA. It's always an honor to represent your country, of course, but especially at the Olympics. I feel more unified with my teammates, and with our country, than I have at any other time in my career and my life.

And I think I did everything I went to South Korea to do. On the athletics side, I skied my heart out. I skied for my grandfather. And I enjoyed every second of being a part of Team USA and sharing this experience with my teammates.

When you're racing World Cups or the World Championships, it's more individual. The World Championships is just Alpine skiing, for example, so it's a totally different ballgame. But I’ll never forget going on the "TODAY Show" and seeing the entire women's hockey team with their gold medals. Their energy and enthusiasm and excitement was just so incredible to be a part of. And watching them really reminded me that we are all on the same team. We're all pulling for each other, and to be able to celebrate with them was really special.

Read the full op-ed on nbcnews.com

(As told to THINK editor Meredith Bennett-Smith; edited for clarity.)

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