US ski champion Lindsey Vonn is to miss next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, due to a right knee injury she sustained nearly a year ago, she announced on Tuesday.
“I am devastated to announce that I will not be competing in Sochi,” Vonn said on Facebook. “I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL [anterior cruciate ligament], 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,” she added.
“On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold,” she said.
The 29-year-old Vonn, who has 59 World Cup race victories to her credit and who is the reigning Olympic downhill champion, badly injured the knee while competing in a super-G at the World Championships in February last year.
After reconstructive surgery on the joint and a lengthy layoff, Vonn returned to World Cup competition at Lake Louise, Canada, early last month, but had injured the same knee again while training in Colorado in November.
At Lake Louise, Vonn was 40th in the first downhill, 11th in a second downhill and fifth in a super-G.
She then competed in a downhill at Val d’Isere in the French Alps just before Christmas, under the watchful eye of boyfriend Tiger Woods, but failed to finish the race as she skied out.
“Unfortunately, I have no ACL and it just gave out on me,” she said at the time.
Vonn said she would compete in just one or two races before the Winter Olympics in the ski resort of Sochi from Feb. 7.
Her absence will deprive the Games of one of the biggest stars and draws in winter sport, with her romance with Woods making headlines worldwide.
US Ski and Snowboard Association head Bill Marolt said he was confident Vonn would be able to bounce back from the injury in time for the next World Cup season later this year.