The famed Olympian is hosting a competition series that gives a whole new meaning to pet travel.

By Christine Burroni
November 20, 2020
Lindsey Vonn and her dog Lucy
Lindsey Vonn and her dog Lucy
| Credit: Francis Bompard/Agence Zoom / Stringer/Getty Images

Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn may be retired from the slopes but she's still up for some adventure — with her dog Lucy by her side.

Premiering Friday, Vonn will be hosting a dog competition show entitled The Pack on Amazon Prime Video where pups and their humans compete in various challenges around the world for $500,000 — and another $250,000 to be donated to the winner's favorite animal charity.

Filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Pack brings 12 teams of dogs and their companions to countries like Costa Rica, Switzerland, France, and Italy where they put their doggie skills to the test for thrilling stunts like zip-lining and skiing. Veterinarians also traveled with the show to ensure the safety of its furry participants

Lucy, Vonn's 4-year-old King Charles Cavelier Spaniel who never leaves her side, couldn't sit out for her owner's new gig and even participated in some of the pups' challenges throughout the show.

As for the 36-year-old former Olympian who took on a challenge in itself by trading in her skis for a TV camera, Vonn told Travel + Leisure all about her time filming with Lucy — who has her own Instagram account — and how she hopes the show offers a whole new way for pet lovers to see the world, especially when international travel may not be an option right now.

Travel + Leisure: The Pack is so fun and unique, how did you get involved? 

"Lindsey Vonn: Post-skiing career I was looking for a new challenge and I've always traveled with Lucy since I first got her. I have two other dogs so I’m a huge dog person. As soon as [the production company, Renegade83] said, 'It's a dog show,' I was like, 'Yes, this is for me, this is what I want to do.' It's the perfect combination of getting into the TV world and being with Lucy and meeting other dogs. I’ve never been able to travel to a lot of places that we went to on the show, and Lucy hasn't been to some of these locations, so it was just kind of the perfect storm and I’m very thankful for the opportunity."

The contestants and their dogs compete in some crazy challenges throughout the show, like zip-lining. Was there a moment that you thought, "I can't believe I'm doing this with my dog?"

"Lucy fell asleep in my arms while we were on the zip line, I kid you not.

There was also repelling down a waterfall that I couldn't believe we were doing. The costumes [the dogs wore for a challenge] made me really happy, seeing Lucy in a Gucci dress was the best. The skiing portion was so fun, that's kind of a given that I would love it, but even though for some of the adventures I had maybe done before I still wasn't able to always do them with Lucy, so this was a pretty incredible way to to do that together."

What was your and Lucy's favorite country to visit while traveling for the show? 

"Costa Rica was definitely my favorite. I don’t get to go on vacation very often so I always utilize every moment that I have in the water. Lucy’s not a big water dog but she was on a stand-up paddleboard and she did a great job. She definitely liked the rainforest, so it was a cool spot."

Your dogs seem to have more travel experience than most humans, where have they been? 

"My other two [Leo and Bear], are almost 100 pounds each so they're not exactly travel-size, but they’ve been to New Jersey, Utah, Colorado, and California. They’ve been around the U.S. but not to Europe, that would be too difficult. Lucy’s been to Chile, she's been to Korea, Norway, Sweden, you name it, she's been there."

What's it like traveling with dogs so regularly? 

"Honestly, almost every place I’ve been to in Europe is very accepting of dogs — especially in Italy, you can usually take them to any restaurant as long as they’re well behaved. Chile was the same, they love dogs. Every place we went to they were accepting [of the show], and they loved the show concept so it was really nice to see that because I’ve seen some places that aren’t accepting and it's disappointing. "

Did you get any time off to enjoy the countries that you were visiting? 

"I got a little bit of time in Florence. My sister lives there and she's married to an Italian so I’ve been there before but you can never get tired of that city. In Switzerland, we had a snow day so Lucy and I played in the snow a bit which was really fun. The rest of the time I was working pretty much every single day — it was a lot of hard work but it was very rewarding at the same time."

How was the transition going from Olympic athlete to TV host? 

"It was definitely a challenge. I’ve memorized lines before but there were a lot of lines, and a lot of times you have to deliver them in front of the cast in a way that you really don't have any opportunity to mess up. It was very thrilling because I had to perform and that type of adrenaline is similar to racing for me. It was hard but I enjoyed that."

Speaking of racing, what do you miss most about skiing at the Olympic level? 

"The competition is really what I miss the most. I’ve stayed really active in the gym because I find a lot of happiness doing that. I love pushing myself and working hard and I feel like I get kind of the same feeling now as when I was racing, so that's kind of been my nice little sanctuary."

We're all so disappointed that the 2020 Olympics were delayed until next year. As a gold medalist, what are your thoughts when it comes to the athletes who were planning to compete? 

"There’s a lot of uncertainty coming up. The delay presents a whole other layer of challenges. Some athletes that were injured now have the time to rehabilitate and some who were healthy and ready to go could get injured. With travel and everything, it's a lot of anxiety. I think the athletes who will do well are the ones that will be able to adapt to these difficult circumstances."

Editor's Note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Christine Burroni is Travel + Leisure’s Digital News Editor. Find her keeping up with just about everything on Twitter or see what she’s up to in NYC or on her latest trip on Instagram.