After a rocky season marred by injury, Lindsey Vonn has officially announced her withdrawal from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Although the gold medal-winning alpine skier and four-time world champion was hoping to take home a second Olympic medal, it's not to be.
Vonn has had a hectic year. After suffering a horrific crash last year that devastated her right knee, and undergoing surgery to repair her medial collateral ligament and anterior cruciate, she re-tore her ACL in November at a training run in Beaver Creek, CO.
Though this isn't the first time she's suffered a setback (in 2006, she crashed while training for the Olympics in San Sicario, Italy, only to come back swinging and place eighth at the Games, as well as pick up the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award), this season has been different, and since her accident in November, 29-year-old Vonn had all but disappeared from the World Cup circuit, choosing to forgo racing for rest, leading many people to believe she wouldn't ultimately compete at the Olympics after all.
However, when SHAPE spoke to Vonn at an earlier interview in November, the skier seemed optimistic, saying that she was recovering from her injury and felt good about her chances at Sochi.
“It was definitely very concerning,” Vonn told SHAPE.com. “I was afraid my career would be over, but as soon as I got the news after the MRI that it was MCL/ACL and not a compound fracture, I thought I’d be fine. It wasn’t anything that I felt I couldn’t come back from.”
Still, Vonn announced early Tuesday morning through her publicist that she will be unable to compete in Sochi. She also explained that she will soon undergo another ACL surgery and hopes to return to the competition circuit in 2015.
Anybody who knows anything about the world of winter sports knows that Vonn is one of the top, if not the most successful, alpine skiers in the world. Her success might be unique, but her injury is not, and Vonn’s not the only Olympic athlete this season to recover from multiple injuries. No doubt, winter sports are brutal. But when asked if she’s ever considered, even if only for a second, if the constant bruising and battering isn’t worth it, if it’s time to find something else to do, she didn't hesitate. “No.”
“When I’m up on the mountain, I just feel more like myself,” she told SHAPE. “I’m in my comfort zone, I’m in my happy place. It’s so invigorating and empowering. When I’m skiing, it’s just me and the mountain.”
We wish Vonn the best of luck as she recovers!