Three-time Olympic medallist Lindsey Vonn has announced her retirement from skiing because her “body is broken beyond repair” and “screaming to stop”.The 34-year-old American, who won downhill Winter Olympic gold at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, was chasing a record number of World Cup wins.
But after being plagued by injuries and revealing she had further surgery last spring, she has been forced to stop.”After many sleepless nights, I have accepted I cannot continue,” she said.”I will compete at the World Championships in downhill and super-G next week in Are, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career.
“The past two weeks have been some of the most emotionally challenging days of my life. I am struggling with the reality of what my body is telling me versus what my mind and heart believe I’m capable of.”The unfortunate reality is my mind and body are not on the same page.”
Vonn, who also won two World Championships, a super-G bronze in Vancouver and a Winter Olympic downhill bronze in Pyeongchang 2018, will retire four victories short of equalling Swede Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 World Cup wins.
Her bronze in Korea made her the oldest woman to claim a Winter Olympics alpine skiing medal.But after saying she had had “more injuries and surgeries than I care to admit” she described how a knee injury suffered at Lake Louise last year proved impossible to fully recover from.
She said in an emotional post on Instagram: “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.
“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 three 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.”
‘Arthritis is the least of my worries’
Vonn, who dated golfer Tiger Woods for almost three years, added: “At this point, arthritis is the least of my worries and I hope I can still ski with my kids some day. But even knowing what lies ahead for my body, it has still been worth it.
“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, three Olympic medals, seven 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!
“So please let my story be of comebacks, victories and even injuries, but do not tell my story as one of failures or unreached goals.”