Sochi Olympics 2014: Lindsey Vonn delivers major blow to the Games with announcement she will not compete

The American had hoped to return in time for the Games in Russia

Lindsey Vonn, the defending downhill champion and winter sport’s biggest star, will miss the Sochi Olympics after failing to recover from a knee injury. It is a crushing blow not only to the 29-year-old but also to the US team, US broadcasters and the organisers coming on the day they marked a month to go until the Games begin.

Vonn is skiing’s most recognisable face and one of the few winter sport athletes who transcends their discipline. Her gold in Vancouver four years ago – the first for the US in the women’s downhill – earned her widespread fame at home, a status that was only added to last year when she started going out with Tiger Woods.

Vonn, who also won a bronze in the super-G in Vancouver, tore ligaments in her right knee in a crash at the world championships in February. After undergoing surgery she was out of action for 10 months and then re-tore the repaired ligament in training in November. She still insisted she would make Sochi and returned to compete in World Cup races at Lake Louise in the US last month but then suffered a further injury racing at Val d’Isere – the first World Cup race watched by Woods. On Tuesday, Vonn gave up her struggle to make Sochi and will undergo surgery. She hopes to return for the 2015 world championships.

“I am devastated to announce I will not be able to compete in Sochi,” said the 29-year-old from Colorado. “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.”

In a statement, Vonn’s management team said: “After the incident in Val d’Isere an MRI showed an MCL [medial collateral ligament] sprain which, coupled with the torn ACL, has made it impossible to stabilise her knee and be ready to safely ski again next month.”

The US were the most successful nation on the slopes in Vancouver but their hopes of repeating that feat in Sochi have been badly damaged by Vonn’s withdrawal. Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso, two of their other medal hopefuls, are both struggling desperately for any sort of form. The absence of Vonn will also be keenly felt by NBC; the skier was certain to be the centre-point of their coverage for which they paid $775m.

The organisers marked a month to go by announcing everything was ready and in place for Russia's first Winter Games and first post-Soviet Olympics. It was accompanied by a painful slogan “Hot. Cool. Yours.” Hours later one of their key performers was gone. They will be feeling Vonn’s pain.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'