Isolde Kostner was the daughter of an ice hockey player, and she originally tried that sport, but since the rules of the Italian association at the time did not allow women to play, she switched to skiing. Specializing in speed events, she débuted in international racing in 1993, winning gold in the super-G at the World Junior Championships. In the 1993-94 season she started competing in the World Cup and won her first race, the downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, an event that was tragically marred by the accident that took the life of the Austrian Ulrike Maier. A few days later Kostner won two bronze medals at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, and she won back-to-back world titles in the super-G in 1996 and 1997. In the 2000-01 season she became the first Italian to win the downhill World Cup, in addition to a silver medal in the super-G at the World Championships. The following season Kostner confirmed her excellent form, winning the downhill World Cup for a second time and winning the silver medal in the same event at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, where she also carried the Italian flag at the Opening Ceremony.
Kostner won 18 medals at the Italian Championships, seven downhill, nine in the super-G and two in the giant slalom, including 12 titles. One month before the 2006 Winter Olympics, Kostner announced her retirement from racing, devoting herself to her family and the child she was awaiting with fellow alpine skier and Olympian Werner Perathoner. During the Closing Ceremony of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games she marched into the arena in a wedding dress to extinguish the Olympic flame. She later participated in the television show “Nights on Ice.” Kostner attended a design school to become a “barrel painter,” or painting wooden carvings. In 2002 she was appointed Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.