World-class skier Lindsey Vonn has gone to great lengths to get ready for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, after battling through injuries for the past year, but the defending downhill gold medalist has decided to sit out the upcoming Winter Games in February.
A disappointed Vonn posted a message on her official Facebook account explaining her decision to withdraw from the Sochi Olympics:
I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi. 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. I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February. 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!
Vonn's status for Sochi has been very much in question ever since she tore her ACL and MCL in a devastating crash in February of 2013.
Although Vonn seemed to be making progress, she suffered a setback in November when she crashed during training and re-injured her right knee. She once again attempted to work her way back, but time simply wasn't on her side.
Andrew Dampf of the Associated Press reported on Jan. 4 that Vonn had been resting for two weeks, which clearly put her behind the eight ball in terms of being Olympic-ready.
Lindsey Vonn's coach tells AP she has not skied at all for 2 weeks and likely to skip more WCup races, leaving Olympic status up in the air— Andrew Dampf (AP) (@asdampf) January 4, 2014
Vonn's absence is a major disappointment on several fronts. After taking gold in downhill and bronze in the Super-G at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, she was obviously hoping to equal or better those results in Sochi.
Vonn is arguably the most popular and well-known Winter Olympic athlete in the United States, so viewers will be negatively impacted too. NBC may be the biggest loser in all of this, though, as Tik Root of NBC Olympics pointed out.
Will Vonn ever compete in the Olympics again?
Vonn's popularity has skyrocketed since the 2010 Olympics due to her highly publicized relationship with superstar golfer Tiger Woods, and having her in Sochi would have been a boon to NBC's ratings.
Other athletes and storylines are sure to emerge, but Vonn was a sure thing.
At the age of 29, it remains to be seen if Vonn's Olympic career is over. She will be 33 years of age for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, which doesn't disqualify her by any means, but it is unclear if she will ever fully recover from her knee ailments.
Even if she doesn't, Vonn will still go down as one of the greatest female skiers of all time. Unfortunately, she won't be able to prove it on the world stage in Sochi.
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