Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

'Devastated' Vonn vows to come back stronger

Updated: 2014-01-09 07:11
By Associated Press ( China Daily)

'Devastated' Vonn vows to come back stronger

US downhill star forced to miss Olympics due to reconstructive knee surgery

Less than two weeks after reconstructive surgery on her right knee last February, Lindsey Vonn already was sounding a positive note, saying she was "really looking forward to Sochi" and defending her Olympic downhill gold medal.

But along the way to the next Winter Games, Vonn began facing setbacks.

As she'd move past one, another would surface. In the end, it was too much, even for Vonn, the most accomplished US ski racer in history.

Expected to be one of the biggest stars at these Olympics, Vonn announced on Tuesday - exactly one month before the opening ceremony - she won't be able to race in Russia.

In a Facebook posting, Vonn said she was "devastated to miss the Olympics, but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level".

Her personal publicist, Lewis Kay, said in a statement the 29-year-old from Vail, Colorado, will have reconstructive knee surgery again "shortly".

Like many in her risk-filled sport, Vonn has dealt with injuries often, particularly at major events.

She withdrew midway through the 2011 world championships because of a concussion. She raced with a severely bruised shin at the last Olympics. She skipped a race at the 2009 worlds after slicing her thumb open on a champagne bottle. She hurt her knee in training and missed a pair of races at the 2007 worlds. She took a scary fall during training at the 2006 Olympics, then left the hospital to compete.

Vonn left the 2010 Vancouver Games with two medals: the first Olympic downhill gold for an American woman, and a bronze in the super-G.

She is also a four-time overall World Cup champion, by far the most recognized name in alpine skiing at the moment - and, as it happens, the girlfriend of Tiger Woods.

'Devastated' Vonn vows to come back stronger

Add it all up, and she would have been the focus of plenty of media coverage in Sochi, certainly a central figure in NBC's coverage for the US audience.

"Without Lindsey Vonn, the races are just not the same," Canadian women's alpine coach Hugues Ansermoz said last month.

"She just attracts so much interest. When Lindsey Vonn is here, there are more people coming to watch the race, there is more interest on TV, more journalists are interested. And her relationship with Tiger Woods makes even more people interested."

But Vonn has rarely been present on the elite skiing circuit the past 12 months. She tore two ligaments in her right knee and broke a bone in that leg during a high-speed crash at the world championships last February.

As Vonn neared a return, she re-tore her surgically repaired ACL in a crash during training in November.

After finishing 40th, 11th and fifth in a trio of World Cup races at Lake Louise, Alberta, in early December, Vonn sprained her MCL during a downhill at Val d'Isere, France, two weeks later.

"I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL," Vonn said on Tuesday via Facebook.

"I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships in Vail next year," she wrote.

"On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold."

 'Devastated' Vonn vows to come back stronger

Lindsey Vonn of the US clears a gate during the first run of the World Cup Women's Giant Slalom race in Maribor in this 2013 file photo. Olympic downhill champion Vonn, one of the biggest attractions in winter sport, will miss next month's Sochi Games because she requires surgery on her injured knee. Srdjan Zivulovic / Reuters

(China Daily 01/09/2014 page24)