Lindsey Vonn commemorated her late grandfather in a touching way after winning a bronze medal during the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The decorated skier vowed to give the women's alpine downhill final on Tuesday everything she had to reclaim her Olympic title — and broke down in tears when she medaled for the first time in eight years. But the South Korea games carry an important weight for Vonn outside of the competition.
The Olympic competitor recently revealed that she scattered the ashes of her late grandfather, Don Kildow, near the men's downhill course, PEOPLE reports. Her beloved grandfather passed away in November, but was often on her mind because he was stationed near Pyeongchang during the Korean War when he was building roads as an Army Corps of Engineers.
"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, adding that she dispersed parts of his 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.
"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. I got a bronze, which, you know, to me was very special. And I think he would be proud of that," Vonn said.
PEOPLE reports Vonn met with seven elderly South Korean men who presented her with a letter of appreciation, expression their thanks for what they called her grandfather's contribution for the freedom of South Korea. Vonn also received several traditional Korean fashion accessories and gloves.
The skier dedicated her Olympics run to her grandfather before arriving in Pyeongchang. She posted footage of an interview with him on the eve of the Olympics.
When asked what it is like to watch his granddaughter ski, Kildow pounded on his chest. "My heart doesn't stop," he said, before showing off the scrapbooks he kept chronicling Vonn's career.0comments
"I still can't believe you're gone," Vonn wrote on Instagram on Nov. 10. "No words can describe how much you mean to me and how much I love you. I wish I had more time with you but i will cherish the memories we had. You taught me to be tough, to be kind, and above all, to ski fast. Now, every time i ski down the mountain I know you'll be there with me. I'm proud to be your granddaughter and I will think of you always. I will race for you in Korea and I will try as hard as I can to win for you."
Photo credit: Twitter / @lindseyvonn