News Column

Lindsey Vonn to Miss Sochi Olympics

January 7, 2014

By Kevin Cusick, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

World Cup skiing champion Lindsey Vonn announced Tuesday that she will miss the upcoming Sochi Olympics after reinjuring her knee during training.

"I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi," the Burnsville native said on her Facebook page. "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."

Vonn, 29, who won the gold medal in the women's downhill in Vancouver in 2010, tore her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments last February during the super-giant slalom in Schladming, Austria. She also broke a bone in her lower leg.

The four-time World Cup champion returned to the slopes in October, only eight months after surgery, only to reinjure the knee during a training crash in Colorado in November.

Vonn re-tore her surgically repaired ACL in that training crash in November, then she sprained her MCL during a race at Val d'Isere, France, in December.

"I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February," Vonn said. "On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold. 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! XO Lindsey."

Mikaela Shiffrin, the reigning world champion in slalom, and Julia Mancuso, a three-time Olympic medalist, will now be the American women with the best chance of stepping on the Alpine skiing podium next month in Sochi.

Shiffrin, the U.S. teenager who has been labeled the "next Vonn" by some, wrote on Twitter: "It's hard to swallow that @lindseyvonn won't be competing in Sochi, but I'm incredibly impressed at her determination. She's a true (hash)hero."

Another American ski racer, Stacey Cook, posted on Facebook: "Bummed Lindsey Vonn. Our team is not the same without you. You leave big shoes to fill for the rest of the year. "

After skiing in two downhills and a super-G at Lake Louise, Vonn sounded optimistic, declaring she would be in Sochi, "fighting for my medal."

But a couple of weeks later in France, during a downhill -- with boyfriend Tiger Woods watching in the finish area -- Vonn lost her balance, sending her left ski into the air, and forcing all her weight onto her right knee. She grimaced as she pulled up, then clutched that right knee.

Vonn's publicist, Lewis Kay, said Tuesday that a magnetic resonance imaging exam after that episode "showed an MCL sprain, which coupled with the torn ACL, has made it impossible to stabilize her knee and be ready to safely ski again next month."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original headline: Lindsey Vonn to miss Sochi Olympics due to knee injury

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