Cindy (Cynthia) Nelson was born on August 19, 1955 in Duluth, Minnesota. She was raised in Lutsen, Minnesota which is located on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Her family owned the Lutsen Ski Area (now called Lutsen Mountains), a ski area with one of the highest elevations in Minnesota. Cindy learned how to ski there and utilized it to prepare for her downhill racing career. She began training seriously when she was 15 on two runs at Lutsen currently called "Koo-Koo" and "HariKari". The location of the current run called "Fall Line" was actually where a poma lift was located when Cindy was training. This allowed her to get back up the hill more quickly to continue her training.
Cindy burst onto international ski racing scene in 1971. She was a top seed in her first two World Cup competitions and rated one of the top skiers in the world from 1971-1985. Cindy became the first American to win a World Cup Downhill race, and the first skier to win a World Cup Super GS.
Over her fourteen year competitive career Cindy earned a berth on four Olympic teams and four World Championship teams. Along the way she won three World Championship medals and two Olympic medals (1974 Bronze, 1976 Silver). She moved to Vail, Colorado from Minnesota in 1979 at the age of 24. Cindy is still very active with her family's real estate business in Minnesota.