Still battling knee problems, Olympic ski racing champion Lindsey Vonn, 29, of Vail, Co. announced Tuesday, Jan. 7 that she will not participate in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to a press release from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) News Bureau.
Vonn, who had staged a comeback in December with an impressive fifth-place finish in the opening Audi FIS Alpine World Cup super G in Lake Louise, felt that a subsequent racing injury at Val d’Isere, Fra. 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 February, 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at her home in Vail/Beaver Creek, CO, as well as the World Cup season, the USSA press release stated.
The Olympic gold medalist and 17-time Audi FIS Alpine World Cup title winner first sustained a season-ending injury to her right knee Feb. 5, 2013 during a crash in the opening race of the 2013 FIS Alpine World Championships at Schladming, Austria.
She staged a determined comeback, returning to snow Aug. 31 during U.S. Ski Team training camp at Portillo, Chile.
Then, she re-aggravated the same knee during a downhill training crash Nov. 19 at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, Co. causing her to miss the racing debut of Raptor, the 2015 World Championships women’s venue at Beaver Creek, Co.
She returned to the World Cup tour Dec. 6-8 with a successful three-race series in Lake Louise, Alberta including an impressive fifth-place result in super giant slalom.
Vonn will now aim for the 2014-15 World Cup season that includes the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships to be held in her home area of Beaver Creek and Vail.
Vonn is the most successful 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.
She said, “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. I will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA!”
Added Bill Marolt, USSA President and CEO, “In looking ahead, I have every ounce of confidence that Lindsey will be in the starting gate next World Cup season ready to compete. 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. 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.”