Managing her message: Lindsey Vonn on the ads that defined her career

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Under Armour

Over the years, Lindsey Vonn has played poker, glided on futuristic ski simulators and worked out countless times in commercials. Ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics last February, she starred in ads for headphones, paper towels, chocolate candies, sports gear and the Olympic broadcast itself. Safe to say she's mastered the art of staring into the distance with a fierce look of determination strapped across her face.

In the wake of her sudden retirement due to recurring knee injuries, Vonn reflected on the five spots she feels have best defined her over the years. Three of the five on her list debuted in the last year and a half. That shouldn't be a surprise, as Vonn believes she's evolved as much as a marketer over the years as she has as a ski racer.

"It's the sort of thing where you mature as a person," the 34-year-old Vonn says. "Your perceptions change, your knowledge changes. I'd like to think I'm more mature now than I was when I started doing this stuff. I'm far more aware of what I want, what my values are and how I want to represent myself."

UNDER ARMOUR "I WILL WHAT I WANT" CAMPAIGN, 2014

I've done so many great commercials with Under Armour over the years. They've always understood what I'm all about. But the coolest for me was the "I Will What I Want" campaign with Gisele and Misty Copeland. There were so many of us with different stories, but the message in each of the spots was the same, focusing on our strength and will and female empowerment. I was coming back from a big knee injury at the time, and it let everyone know I was ready.


REESE'S "DO SUMMER LIKE A WINTER OLYMPIAN" AD, 2016

This was the most fun commercial I've ever done. I'm out there pretending I don't know how to ride a horse and the horse takes off and I fall. I did rhythmic gymnastics with ... I don't even know what you call it -- the ribbons? I'm messing around with the ribbons while dancing to Britney Spears. I love making people laugh, and this showed that side of me. People asked me, "Can you really not ride a horse?" And I had to be like, "Yes, I can ride a horse. I'm not that unathletic."


BEATS BY DRE "ABOVE THE NOISE" COMMERCIAL, 2018

I thought this was epic. Not a lot of people know I listen to hip-hop and rap before I compete. And you know, when you see me in the starting gate, I mean, that's my competitive, rough side. I look like I'm going to attack like you've never seen anyone attack before. And I don't think I've done a commercial that really showcased my tenacity and grit like this one did. I loved it. It was just hardcore, showing my crashes and everything. I loved it.


NBC PYEONGCHANG OLYMPICS SUPER BOWL AD, 2018

This was without question the most emotionally meaningful commercial that was ever done with me or about me. They asked for my approval of the concept and it sounded awesome, but I didn't have any say in the creative aspect of what they did. It's NBC. I trusted them. And then when I watched it for the first time, I broke down and cried. There's my grandpa talking to me. I was only able to watch it one time before the Olympics because it touched me so much.


BOUNTY "THE QUICKER DOWNHILLER" COMMERCIAL, 2018

This one I love because my King Charles spaniel, Lucy, was in it with me. I remember when they were pitching me concepts, I was like, "You want to know the most authentic thing in the world? I'm constantly picking up after Lucy with Bounty paper towels." I literally have a wad of paper towels with me in her carrier because sometimes when we're walking down an airport terminal, Lucy just has to go. What we ended up with was awesome and super fun.

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