TODAY   |  February 18, 2014

Lindsey Vonn returns to her roots in Vail

Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn spends time with the next generation of U.S. skiers at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, the same club she was a part of growing up. Vonn opens up to TODAY about the challenges of being an athlete.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> welcome back to sochi where the olympic torch is still burning. most athletes began their road to the olympics when they were just kids, and that is certainly true for "today" olympic correspondent lindsey vonn . she decided to pay it forward by spending time with the next generation of skiers in a place she knows well, vail .

>> these young skiers are part of a ski and snowboard club vail . it's the same club that lindsey vonn was part of growing up.

>> my family moved here when i was 11 years old, to vail , colorado, from minnesota. they essentially moved out here entirely for my career. they sold our dream home and gave up a lot to come out here.

>> how are you?

>> good.

>> reporter: on this day, it was time for the next generation of u.s. skiers to meet up with the hometown olympic gold medalist . and they came prepared, questions in hand.

>> do you think being an olympic champion was an impossible achievement when you were younger?

>> lindsey vonn !

>> i set my goals to make the olympics when i was 17, the 2002 olympics in salt lake and i just said i'm going to do it.

>> what has been your most difficult setback? and how did you overcome it?

>> this knee right here has been my most difficult setback.

>> for me, it's helped to have goals. this time i'm fighting hard to get back to world champ .

>> vonn also talked about the importance of teamwork, especially in skiing, which to some may seem more like an individual sport.

>> when you're in the starting gate , it's all up to you. you have to have that self-confidence to beat on your own. but supporting each other off the slopes will help all of you get better on the slopes.

>> what's the hardest thing about being a professional athlete?

>> the gym. it's just every day. it's relentless. because if you're not working hard, someone else is going to work harder.

>> what do you want to be remembered for?

>> i want to inspire you guys do whatever you dream of doing and start a foundation here in vail and get empowerment programs going. at the same time, you know, i want to be known as a great ski racer. i was the same as you. believing why i wanted to be an olympian. if i can give that experience back to any of you guys, then i've done my job.

>> lindsey vonn with the next generation of lindsey vonns or