Lindsey Vonn, the Olympic champion who is the best American skier in history, will miss next month’s Sochi Games following the latest injury to her right knee, which will require surgery.
Vonn, 29, was intent on making a comeback from an incident in which she tore two ligaments and broke a bone in her right leg last February. But a pair of setbacks — the first in November while training in Colorado, the second while racing Dec. 21 in Val D’Isere, France — have left her with a sprained knee ligament. She will need more surgery shortly, and skiing the Olympic downhill — in which she won gold four years ago — will be impossible.
The development immediately sucks some star power from the U.S. Olympic team — and from NBC, which will carry the Games from Russia. As a four-time World Cup overall champion and two-time Olympic medalist, Vonn had generated crossover appeal. She is familiar to sports fans who are not necessarily familiar with skiers, appearing on the “Tonight” show and in a variety of ad campaigns. Dating golf star Tiger Woods has also increased her visibility.
The American ski team must now turn to others if they hope to back up their stellar performance from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Veteran Julia Mancuso, who has won three Olympic medals, is struggling thus far this season but has a reputation for bringing out her best performances in the premier events. Mikaela Shiffrin, an 18-year-old from Eagle-Vail, Colo., just won the sixth World Cup slalom race of her young career, and she will go into the Games as a favorite for a medal in that discipline.
Source: Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, CNN