Lindsey Vonn, one of the most decorated skiers in US history, made it official on Tuesday: She will not be headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Vonn, who is recovering from ACL surgery after an injury suffered last season, made the announcement on her Facebook page.
I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi. I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level. I’m having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February. On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold. Thank you all so much for all of the love and support. I will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA!
Vonn had surgery last winter to repair her ACL and MCL after her memorable crash at the world championships in Schladming, Austria. She reportedly suffered a partial tear of the same ACL during training in November, but still hoped to be on track to participate in the Olympics. Yet, last month, she re-aggravated the knee in a World Cup downhill race in Val D’Isere, France, which seemed to be the tipping point for her decision.
Vonn had placed no higher than fifth in any race this season, and had not raced since the Dec. 21 incident at Val D’Isere. She, of course, won gold in downhill and bronze in Super-G at the Games in Vancouver four years ago.
Vonn’s absence is also a blow to NBC, which is banking on Team USA’s star power to help justify its $4.38 billion investment in Sochi and the next three summer and winter Games.
Vonn’s absence deprives the Games of one of their most significant U.S. stars; only snowboarder Shaun White can come close to matching Vonn’s celebrity wattage, a status driven into TMZ territory by her nearly yearlong relationship with Woods. More measurably, it deprives one of the most dominant ski racers in history (and by far the best U.S. female racer in history) of the chance to add more Olympic medals to her career record. Vonn has won 59 World Cup races in her career, just three short of the record held by Annemarie Moser-Proell of Austria; Vonn has four World Cup overall titles, second to Moser-Proell’s four. Yet at age 29, and now in a need of a second ACL reconstruction in less than a year, Vonn’s window is much nearer to closing than it was a year ago, and her demolition of all-time records much less certain. From a much broader view, her absence underscores the fragile nature of the Olympic athlete’s quest, trying to hit a tiny quadrennial bulls-eye when the smallest — or biggest — injury can come at precisely the wrong time.
Vonn is scheduled for surgery “shortly,” according to her publicist Lewis Kay.