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Vail’s Lindsey Vonn to retire from skiing after world championships

VAIL, Colo. — Lindsey Vonn has only two races remaining on her aching knees.

The women’s all-time leader in World Cup wins from Vail announced Friday that she will retire from ski racing after this month’s world championships in Sweden.

The 34-year-old Vonn had been planning to retire in December but changed her plans because of persistent pain in both of her knees, which she fully realized after failing to finish a race in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, last month.

“It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing,” Vonn wrote on Instagram . “I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG (super-G) next week in Are, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career.”

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It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing. I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG next week in Åre, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career. I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes. I have never wanted the storyline of my career to be about injuries and because of that I decided not to tell anyone that I underwent surgery this past spring. A large portion of cartilage that had delaminated from my bone was removed. My crash in Lake Louise last year was much more painful than I let on, but I continued to race because I wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for my late grandfather. Again, I rehabbed my way back this summer and I felt better than I had in a long time. Then I crashed in Copper this November and injured my left knee, tearing my LCL plus sustaining 3 fractures. Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can. My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen. Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever. However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER! I always say, “Never give up!” So to all the the kids out there, to my fans who have sent me messages of encouragement to keep going… I need to tell you that I’m not giving up! I’m just starting a new chapter. Don’t lose faith in your dreams, keep fighting for what you love, and if you always give everything you have you’ll be happy no matter what the outcome. Thank you for the amazing years, for always supporting me, and for making my job so fun. Can’t wait to see some of you in the finish in Åre where I will give it my all one last time. Love always, Lindsey

A post shared by L I N D S E Y • V O N N (@lindseyvonn) on

The worlds open with the women’s super-G on Tuesday. The women’s downhill is scheduled for Feb. 10.

Vonn’s right knee is permanently damaged from previous crashes.

She has also torn ACLs, suffered fractures near her left knee, broken her ankle, sliced her right thumb, had a concussion and more. She’s limited now to about three runs per day, and her aching body can’t handle the workload of other skiers.

“My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of,” Vonn said. “My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen.”

Retiring in Sweden brings Vonn full circle.

She won the first two major championship medals of her career — two silvers — at the 2007 worlds in the Swedish resort of Are.

Vonn has also won seven World Cup races in Are, including two giant slaloms, and has 12 podiums overall.

At last season’s World Cup finals in Are, Vonn won the downhill and finished third in the super-G.

However, with 82 World Cup wins, Vonn will not be able to match the overall record of 86 held by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.

“Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever,” Vonn said.

“However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER!”

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