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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album