For the better part of the past year, Lindsey Vonn had a one-track mind: Recovering from her torn ACL and tibial fracture so she could defend her gold medal at the Sochi Olympics.
Despite doing everything in her power to make that happen, Lindsey confirmed the comeback isn’t in the cards.
“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,” she said in a statement.
As the first woman to win downhill gold at the Olympics and four overall World Cup titles, Lindsey’s absence from the Winter Games is a definite setback for the whole United States team. Looking on the bright side, Lindsey noted it does create an additional spot so “one of my teammates can go for gold.”
In terms of mental determination, Lindsey was as good as gold: Just weeks after re-tearing her ACL in November, Lindsey placed fifth in a major Super G race. She told reporters at the time, “I know I can win again… I’m ready for Sochi.”
Unfortunately, after having her knee buckle during a December competition in Val D’Isere, it was apparent competing at Sochi could do Lindsey more harm than good. Her rep explained to Sports Illustrated, “After the incident in Val D’Isere, an MRI showed an MCL sprain, which coupled with the torn ACL, has made it impossible to stabilize her knee and be ready to safely ski again next month.”
As SI‘s Tim Layden put it, Lindsey’s story represents the broader struggles of elite athletes.
“Her absence underscores the fragile nature of the Olympic athlete’s quest, trying to hit a tiny quadrennial bulls-eye when the smallest — or biggest — injury can come at precisely the wrong time.”
Fortunately, Lindsey can get comfort from boyfriend Tiger Woods — who knows a thing or two about setbacks.
Her rep said Lindsey is also looking ahead to her future and remains optimistic: “She will have surgery shortly and is expected to make a full recovery in time for the 2014/15 World Cup season and the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail-Beaver Creek.”