Lindsey Vonn shocked the skiing world on Friday by announcing that her racing career is coming to an end.
The former Olympic gold medalist and winningest female downhill skier ever revealed numerous injuries that she's kept quiet over the past year, saying they've taken a toll on her that won't allow her to continue competing at the highest level.
Her final races will come at the World Championships in Sweden next week.
"It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing," said Vonn in an Instagram post, later adding: "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."
Vonn said she kept quiet a surgery she had last spring to remove a large piece of cartilage "that had delaminated" from her bone, and then she crashed again in November, suffering a torn LCL and three fractures.
"I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can," she said.
Vonn, who got her start at Buck Hill in Burnsville, has won 82 World Cup events, the most ever for a woman and just four fewer than men's record holder Ingemar Stenmark, of Sweden.
Vonn's farewell message
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.