Lindsey Vonn celebrates at the medal ceremony at the Winter Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 21, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Lindsey Vonn, Team USA’s greatest ski racer, gave it her all at one more go-round on the world cup circuit. But chronic injuries have forced the Olympic gold medalist and all-time women’s world cup wins leader into an early retirement.
The 34-year-old announced Friday morning that this month’s world championship in Sweden will be her last competitive event. Vonn had originally planned to compete through the end of the current world cup season in hopes of becoming the winningest alpine skier of either gender, but injuries, specifically chronic knee pain, forced her to reconsider.
“The past two weeks have been some of the most emotionally challenging days of my life,” Vonn wrote on social media. “… After many sleepless nights, I have finally accepted that I cannot continue ski racing. I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and Super-G next week in Åre, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career.”
Vonn has seemed unstoppable in recent years, coming back from numerous injury setbacks. Notable crashes at Lake Louise, Alberta, last year and at Copper Mountain, Colorado, in November took their toll, but Vonn kept coming back. After failing to finish a race last month in Italy, the injuries became too much to overcome.
Vonn made history at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, becoming the first American woman to win a gold medal in downhill. She also won a bronze medal in super-G at those Games, and added another in downhill last February in PyeongChang that made her the oldest women’s alpine skier to win an Olympic medal. Vonn also has seven world championship medals, including downhill and super-G golds in 2009.
But it is on the world cup circuit where Vonn will perhaps be remembered most. Her 82 world cup victories are the most of any woman, and just four shy of the all-time record held by Ingemar Stenmark. In 2016, she broke Stenmark’s record for most world cup crystal globes when she won her 20th.
The two-time world champion isn’t done yet, as she will take to the slopes in Sweden hoping for one more magical run.
“Thank you for the amazing years, for supporting me through thick and thin, and for making my job so fun,” she wrote. “Can’t wait to see some of you in the finish in Are where I will give it my all one last time.”