Champion skier Lindsey Vonn had hoped to push through the pain and compete in 2019, but instead, she announced Friday that she will be officially retiring after the world championships in Sweden this month.
Upcoming events she’s eying include the women’s super-G and a downhill event. Except her knees and ankles are not cooperating.
“My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen,” she wrote on Instagram.
Last month, Vonn was unable to finish a race held in Italy. She is in second place for the record for most World Cup victories at 82, but her right knee gives her continuous pain, having been damaged from previous crashes. She is physically unable to catch up to the actual record of 86 held by Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark, according to the New York Post.
The U.S. skier has endured torn ACLs, several fractures near her left knee, a broken ankle, a concussion, and an injured thumb, just to name a few of her injuries. She can only handle three runs each day and cannot train like she needs to.
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It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing. I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG next week in Åre, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career. I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes. I have never wanted the storyline of my career to be about injuries and because of that I decided not to tell anyone that I underwent surgery this past spring. A large portion of cartilage that had delaminated from my bone was removed. My crash in Lake Louise last year was much more painful than I let on, but I continued to race because I wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for my late grandfather. Again, I rehabbed my way back this summer and I felt better than I had in a long time. Then I crashed in Copper this November and injured my left knee, tearing my LCL plus sustaining 3 fractures. Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can. My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen. Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever. However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER! I always say, “Never give up!” So to all the the kids out there, to my fans who have sent me messages of encouragement to keep going… I need to tell you that I’m not giving up! I’m just starting a new chapter. Don’t lose faith in your dreams, keep fighting for what you love, and if you always give everything you have you’ll be happy no matter what the outcome. Thank you for the amazing years, for always supporting me, and for making my job so fun. Can’t wait to see some of you in the finish in Åre where I will give it my all one last time. Love always, Lindsey
“It’s been an emotional two weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing,” the 34-year-old champion wrote on Instagram.
Vonn admitted that she’s not as upset about heeding her body’s aches and pains by retiring as she is about not reaching her goal.
“I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER!” she noted in her post.
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After a lot of physical therapy and time to clearly think things through, we have come to some conclusions about my knee. First, we discovered the reason I had so much pain and muscle shut down in Cortina was due to an impact injury to my peroneal nerve. This most likely came from the final jump on the first training run in Cortina, but it’s hard to know for sure. After that training run, the pain got progressively worse each day and by Sunday my lower leg was in a lot of pain and my muscles had completely shut down. Now that we know the problem the next issue is fixing it. So far we haven’t found a solution and as a result I will not be able to compete in tomorrow’s downhill training run. However, since this is a new “injury” per say, I remain hopeful that we can fix it. I’m taking things day by day and we will see what happens. I know that I might not get the ending to my career that I had hoped for, but if there is a chance, I will take it. Thanks for all of the support you have shown me, it helps keep me going. ❤️????????
One goal that Vonn did achieve was winning a bronze medal in downhill at last year’s Pyeongchang games. She wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for her late grandfather. She managed to do that following a surgery that removed a large portion of cartilage that had pulled away from the bone.
“I have never wanted the storyline of my career to be about injuries and because of that, I decided not to tell anyone that I underwent surgery this past spring. Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can,” Vonn shared on Instagram.
She encouraged all of her followers to “never give up.” She said she isn’t giving up, but is instead starting a new chapter in life. Then, she thanked her fans for supporting her and making her adventurous job worth the pain. She promised to “give it my all one last time” when she heads downhill in Sweden this month in her farewell event.