She’s the girlfriend of Tiger Woods and rumored close pal of his ex Elin Nordegren, so it’s no surprise that Lindsey Vonn’s name is becoming more and more of a tabloid fixture. But beyond her high profile relationship Vonn is an accomplished sportswoman and Olympic gold medalist. So isn’t it time we got to know the alpine ski racer a little better?

Lindsey VonnSkiing superstar, Lindsey Vonn

Born Lindsey Kildow, the now 29 year old Minnesota native’s skiing ambitions started early. By aged two she was on her first skis and by six she was in her first competitive race. At 10, a meeting with her idol, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, would leave an impression both on the young skier and her heroine. Eventually Street would become Lindsey’s coach and mentor. Lindsey’s first major win came in 1998 when at aged 14 she became the first American to win the"Cadets" slalom skiing event at Italy's Trofeo Topolino. Two years later, Lindsey would make her World Cup debut in the Olympic ski team.

Vonn’s Olympic career began at the 2002 Winter Olympics when she came in 6th in the combined skiing race. In 2004 she would take 3rd place in the downhill race at the World Cup. This would be her first of five World Cup podium placings over the next two months. Her second Winter Olympic appearance, in 2006, saw Vonn suffer injury when she crashed during the second training run for the downhill race. Despite suffering a bruised hip, she competed in the race two days later earning eight place. Her determination to continue saw her awarded the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award, for the person who best represented the Olympic spirit as voted for fans, the media and fellow athletes.

Lindsey and Thomas VonnLindsey and former husband Thomas Vonn

2008 to 2010 marked undoubtedly Lindsey’s most successful career run. During this period she became the overall World Cup winner three times. Her first win in 2008 made her only the second American woman to do so, following Tamara McKinney in 1983. The next year she would take home her first world championship as well as being the World Cup winner once again. Her third consecutive World Cup win in 2010 equaled the previous record set by American Phil Mahre and made her only the third woman to achieve more than two consecutive wins.

Next: Lindsey sets more records but faces career halting injuries