Vonn Withdraws from 2014 Olympics

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SAM Magazine—Park City, Utah, Jan. 7, 2014—Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn will not participate in the upcoming Sochi Olympics due to instability in her surgically repaired right knee, and will undergo another surgery soon so that she has time to recover for the 2015 World Alpine Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek.

The decision means Vonn won’t defend the gold medal she won in downhill at the Vancouver Olympics, where she also took the bronze in super-G.

Vonn’s injury troubles began nearly a year ago, when she sustained a season-ending injury to her right knee on Feb. 5, 2013, during a crash in the opening race of the World Championships in Schladming, Austria. She staged an incredible comeback after reconstructive surgery, returning to snow on Aug. 31 during a U.S. Ski Team training camp in Portillo, Chile. She then placed fifth in a World Cup super-G in Lake Louise, Canada, providing hope that she would be sufficiently healthy to compete in Sochi.

However, recent falls left her with injuries to her MCL and ACL, which left her knee too unstable for the demands of racing. She incurred damage to her repaired ACL in a training-run fall at Copper Mountain Nov. 19. Another racing injury, in Val d’Isere, France Dec. 21, left her with damage to her MCL.

“I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi,” Vonn said in a statement. “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.”

Vonn’s withdrawal means that U.S. medal hopes will ride on other shoulders. "While Lindsey won't be in Sochi, we have a strong team that is well prepared to challenge,” said U.S. ski team head Bill Marolt. “The women's speed team is experienced with five athletes who have achieved World Cup podiums, and a seasoned veteran in Julia Mancuso who has won three Olympic medals in her career. Now is the time for those athletes to step up towards our 'Best in the World' vision." Those athletes include Mikaela Shiffrin, the World Champion and World Cup Champion in slalom who has also been earning podiums in GS this season.