Lindsey Vonn was prepared to set aside her racing bib after the 2018-2019 ski season, but a training crash changed the outlook for her final season and therefore her retirement plans.
Vonn premiered her YouTube channel Friday morning with a video announcing she is pushing back retirement by at least eight months since she won’t be able to compete at her favorite venue in Lake Louise, Alberta, this weekend.
“I’m thinking at this point that I need to come back,” Vonn said. “I know I’ve said many times that I’m not going to come back because my body can’t handle it anymore, but I was also planning on racing Lake Louise.”
“As confusing as this might be to other people, to me it makes perfect sense,” she added.
Vonn opens final season with injury
Von, 34, announced last week that she crashed during Super-G training at Copper Mountain in Colorado. She said she hyper-extended her left knee, sprained her ACL ligament and bruised a bone.
She was forced to miss her World Cup season debut at Lake Louise, which began Friday, and said in the video to miss it is “devastating, to put it lightly.” She’ll be out for a few more weeks, which will mean likely missing the first six of 17 speed races, according to NBC Olympic Talk.
The first speed races on the circuit in 2019 are Jan. 12-13, six weeks away, in Austria at St. Anton.
Vonn wants a proper goodbye to Lake Louise
At a speaking event in mid-October, Vonn announced the 2018-19 ski season as her final one even if she didn’t break the World Cup wins record in that time frame. Prior to that she intended to retire only if she set the record.
Missing a final goodbye to the skyline and mountains and potentially living with that regret, she said, is what has extended her career. She plans to race in 2019 at Lake Louise, which traditionally hosts during the first weekend of December.
“The fact that I’m missing Lake Louise is a huge blow for me,” she said. “Having this as my last season the whole point really is to enjoy every stop on the tour. Really make some great final memories. Take a lot of pictures. Enjoy the time with my teammates. Just really soak it all in. And to be missing my favorite stop on the tour is — I just don’t even know really how to handle it.”
Vonn said it’s not so much about racing, but about the feelings around “my spot.”
“Even some of the locals call it Lake Lindsey. That’s really meaningful to me,” she said. “I have kids who have come back to that race for the last eight years to see me. And I’ve developed really good relationship with those kids.”
Career wins record still at stake
Vonn has 18 wins in 44 starts at Lake Louise, her most successful tour stop. It was targeted as a key spot for her to dig into the four wins she needs to tie for the most World Cup career victories. Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark holds the record at 86.
“Whether I break the World Cup win record or not … if I don’t break it at the end of this year, it doesn’t matter,” Vonn said. “That really has nothing to do with me wanting to race in Lake Louise again. For me, Lake Louise has always been my spot.”
Vonn is already the most decorated female World Cup skier by 20 wins. Mikaela Shiffrin is the only active skier in the top 15. She has 45 victories.
When healthy, Vonn averages seven wins a season. But it’s not often Vonn has been fully healthy. She again told fans “my body can’t handle it anymore.” Her retirement plans could again change if there are any further setbacks.
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