Her knees in pain, Vonn considering immediate retirement

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy (AP) — Lindsey Vonn may have competed in her last ski race.

After failing to finish a World Cup super-G on Sunday as she battles pain in both of her knees, Vonn said immediate retirement "is a possibility."

"But I'm emotional right now," Vonn quickly added. "I have to really think clearly about that. It's not a decision I make lightly or quickly."

Vonn added to reporters, "I'll let you guys know."

Vonn was planning on retiring in December. She returned this weekend from her latest injury — to her left knee — but her best result in three races was ninth in Saturday's downhill.

Vonn needs five more wins to break the all-time World Cup record of 86 victories held by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark but that seems far from her mind now.

"I really don't know what to think at this point," she said. "Definitely isn't the way I had hoped that things would go. I've been able to fight through a lot of injuries in my career but I think my injuries might get the best of me at this point. ... I'm not sure. I'm going to give it a couple of days and make some decisions."

While Vonn's most recent injury was to her left knee — she hyperextended it and sprained a ligament while training in November — the American's right knee is permanently damaged from previous crashes. She's racing with braces on both knees and goes through an extensive rehab process each evening to keep competing.

"I've had four surgeries on my right knee. I've got no LCL (lateral collateral ligament) on my left knee. I've got two braces on. There's only so much I can handle and I might have reached my maximum," Vonn said. "I'm not sure. I've got to take a couple days' time and really think about things."

Mikaela Shiffrin, Vonn's American teammate, won Sunday's race.

Related: Lindsey Vonn through her career:

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Lindsey Vonn through her career
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Lindsey Vonn through her career
A smiling Lindsey Vonn talks with reporters after finishing with the best time for the training run of the women's World Cup downhill in Aspen, Colorado December 6, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Leffingwell (UNITED STATES)
Lindsey Vonn from the U.S. skis during the second training of the Women's World Cup Downhill in St. Anton December 19, 2007. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (AUSTRIA)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. reacts in the finish area during the women's Alpine skiing World Cup downhill in Cortina, northern Italy, January 19, 2008. Vonn won the race ahead of Anja Paerson of Sweden and Emily Brydon of Canada. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi ( ITALY )
Switzerland's Catherine Borghi is sprayed with champagne at the finish area during the women's Alpine Skiing World Cup downhill race in the Swiss mountain resort of Crans-Montana March 8, 2008. Borghi placed thirty-ninth in the last race of her career, while Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. won the race ahead of Austria's Renate Goetschl and Nadia Fanchini of Italy. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann (Switzerland)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. holds the women's World Cup overall trophy as she poses for the photographers on the podium during the World Cup Alpine ski finals in Bormio March 16, 2008. Vonn won ahead of Nicole Hosp of Austria and Maria Riesch of Germany. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini( ITALY )
Lindsey Vonn from the U.S. takes a jump during a practice for the women's Alpine Skiing World Cup downhill race in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee January 16, 2009. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (AUSTRIA)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. shows her gold medal during the medal ceremony after winning the women's Super G event at the Alpine Skiing World Championships 2009 in the French resort of Val d'Isere February 3, 2009. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (FRANCE)
Lindsey Vonn from the U.S. looks at the scoreboard after she missed a pole during the women's Alpine Ski World Cup slalom race in Ofterschwang March 7, 2009.Sandrine Aubert from France won the race ahead of Frida Hansdotter from Sweden and Austria's Nicole Hosp. REUTERS/Michael Dalder (GERMANY)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. celebrates her overall Alpine Ski World Cup trophy on the podium after the women's giant slalom race at the Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals in Are March 14, 2009. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (SWEDEN)
U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn turns past a gate during training for the women's World Cup downhill alpine skiing race in Lake Louise, Alberta, December 1, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Blake (CANADA SPORT SKIING)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. competes during the women's World Cup super-combined race in the Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz January 29, 2010. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SPORT SKIING)
Gold medalist Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. holds up her country's flag as she celebrates winning the women's Alpine Skiing Downhill race at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 17, 2010. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (CANADA)
U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn poses with the Gold medal (R) that she won in the women's downhill skiing and the Bronze that she won in the Super-G during the presentation ceremony at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 20, 2010. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (CANADA)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. poses with the trophy after winning the women's Alpine Skiing World Cup Super G race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen March 12, 2010. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SKIING)
U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn celebrates backstage with her award for best female U.S. Olympic athlete at the 2010 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California July 14, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SPORT SKIING)
Lindsey Vonn from the U.S. jumps during the women's Alpine skiing downhill World Cup race in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (AUSTRIA - Tags: SPORT SKIING IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. competes during the women's super combined race during the Alpine Skiing World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SKIING)
U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn attends a news conference in the Tyrolean ski resort of Soelden October 20, 2011. The alpine ski World Cup opens with a women's and a men's Giant slalom this weekend in Soelden. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (AUSTRIA - Tags: SPORT SKIING HEADSHOT)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. smiles after winning the women's Alpine skiing World Cup super combined race in St.Moritz January 27, 2012. Vonn won the competition ahead of second placed Tina Maze of Slovenia and third placed Nicole Hosp of Austria. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SPORT SKIING PROFILE)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. celebrates her 50th World Cup victory together with head coach Alex Hoedlmoser after winning the women's Alpine Skiing World Cup Downhill on the Kandahar course in Garmisch-Partenkirchen February 4, 2012. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SKIING TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Lindsey Vonn from the U.S. lies in the snow in the finish area after the women's World Cup giant slalom race at the Alpine ski World Cup finals in Schladming March 18, 2012. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger (AUSTRIA)
Lindsey Vonn (R) of the U.S. embraces Laurenne Ross of the U.S. in the finish area after the women's Alpine skiing World Cup Super-G race at the Corviglia in the Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SPORT SKIING)
Golfer Tiger Woods arrives with skier Lindsey Vonn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit celebrating the opening of "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" in New York, May 6, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT FASHION SPORT)
U.S. olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn has her picture taken with former U.S. President George W. Bush at the opening ceremony before the opening Four-ball matches for the 2013 Presidents Cup golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. smiles after winning the women's World Cup Downhill skiing race in Val d'Isere, French Alps, December 20, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Pratta (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT SKIING HEADSHOT)
Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. holds the Globe after winning the women's World Cup Super G trophy at the Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals in Meribel, in the French Alps, March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Pratta
Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn attends Nickelodeon's "Kid's Choice Sports 2015" in Los Angeles July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Phil McCarten
Lindsey Vonn of the US kisses the winner's trophy following the women's Super G race of the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Zauchensee, Austria, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Alpine Skiing - FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships - Women's Downhill - St. Moritz, Switzerland - 12/2/17 - Lindsey Vonn of the USA reacts in the finish. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Olympic gold medalist skier Lindsey Vonn poses for a portrait in New York City, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Vonn, who failed to clear a gate midway down, was met by Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia in the finish area. When Goggia presented her with a bouquet of flowers, Vonn broke down into tears.

"I was charging today but then when I got to the finish and Sofia was there I was just overwhelmed with emotions — and it was really special that she came," said Vonn, who has developed a friendship with her Italian rival in recent seasons. "It really means a lot to me."

Vonn, who holds the record of 12 wins in Cortina, also broke down into tears at Saturday night's public bib draw when organizers showed a video of her triumphs on the Olympia delle Tofane course.

Cortina was where Vonn achieved the first podium result of her career back in 2004 and where she broke the all-time women's World Cup record with victory No. 63 in 2015.

"It's more emotional than I expected. You know that the end is coming but it doesn't make it any easier," Vonn said. "I've been racing here in Cortina for 18 years. It's always been a great place for me. Some amazing memories. I was hoping to make some more amazing memories this weekend — and they were amazing — just not the way I expected.

"I cried. It was so thoughtful of them to do that for me," Vonn added of the video tribute. "I don't expect things like that and so to have that for my last race really means a lot to me. It's more than skiing. I hope to leave an impression that is not just about racing."

Vonn was in contention for a podium place until she went out.

"It's positive but I'm not able to ski the way I want to — the way I know I can," she said. "I'm just really inhibited with my body. My body is inhibiting me from doing what I want to do."

Vonn wasn't the only top skier who failed to finish. More than a third of the 61 starters also DNF'd on a course set by Vonn's longtime coach Alex Hoedlmoser.

"I told him to set an easy course but I think it was just a little bit different in some places than people expected," Vonn said. "I knew that that section where I went out would be difficult but I was trying to let my skis go and try to carry speed and I just underestimated it a little bit and went through the panel."

Shiffrin, who has replaced Vonn as the top U.S. skier and who is on course for a third straight overall World Cup title, earned her first win in Cortina.

"I just told her, 'Congratulations and awesome skiing. It was a well-earned victory today,'" Vonn said. "It's great that another American is on top of the podium."

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