Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn announced Tuesday that she will not participate in the upcoming Sochi Olympics.
Vonn, who had staged a comeback in December with a fifth-place finish in the opening World Cup super G in Lake Louise, felt that a subsequent racing injury in Val d’Isere, France on Dec. 21 made it impossible to stabilize her knee and be ready to safely ski again next month.
Vonn will undergo surgery shortly so that she has sufficient time for recovery with a focus on the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, as well as the 2014-15 World Cup season.
“I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi,” said Vonn. “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,” she added. “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.”
The four-time overall champ sustained a season-ending injury to her right knee on Feb. 5, 2013 during a crash in the opening race of the World Championships in Schladming, Austria. She staged an ambitious comeback, returning to snow Aug. 31 during a team training camp in Portillo, Chile. Vonn then re-aggravated the knee during a downhill training crash on Nov. 19 at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, partially tearing her ACL and causing her to miss the debut of the 2015 World Championships women’s venue at Beaver Creek.
“In looking ahead, I have every ounce of confidence that Lindsey will be in the starting gate next World Cup season ready to compete,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. “She knows the hard work it takes to get to the top and still has significant goals to achieve in what has been an incredible career.
“While Lindsey won’t be in Sochi, we have a strong team that is well prepared to challenge,” he added. “The women’s speed team is experienced with five athletes who have achieved World Cup podiums and a seasoned veteran in Julia Mancuso who has won three Olympic medals in her career. Now is the time for those athletes to step up towards our ‘best-in-the-world’ vision.”
Vonn is the most successful female alpine skier in American history with 17 World Cup titles including a record six consecutive downhill titles and four overall crowns. She holds 59 World Cup victories, currently three short of tying the women’s all-time record of 62 held by Austrian Annemarie Moser Proell.