Lindsey Vonn announces she'll retire after World Championships

Lindsey Vonn has struggled to make a return for her final season and announced Friday the World Championships in Are, Sweden, will be her final race.

Vonn has dealt with injuries to both knees and pinballed around the retirement choice for months now. The announcement comes a day after her name appeared on the U.S. roster for the world championships, eliciting hope she would return and race the rest of the season.

Vonn, 34, is a three-time Olympic medalist and two-time overall world champion. She will retire as the winningest female skiier in world history with 82 World Cup victories. She is five away from breaking the all-time record set by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark, which she will no longer be able to reach. The goal weighed heavily on her commitment to a final season.

Vonn reveals additional surgery, crash details

Vonn went through many injuries, surgeries and rehabs in her career. In her retirement post, she revealed an additional surgery underwent last spring that removed a “large portion of cartilage that had delaminated” from the bone.

On the World Cup circuit in 2017 she suffered a hard crash at Lake Louise, her favorite course, when her skis clipped each other on the final turn in the downhill. She flew into the fencing but walked away, later tweeting “can’t keep me down!” Vonn raced in the Olympics two months later.

Vonn revealed in her retirement post on Facebook that the crash was “much more painful than I let on,” but she continued with the race and season. She wanted an Olympic medal in honor of her late grandfather, who died in November, and did so with a bronze in the downhill she dedicated to the Korean War veteran.

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Lindsey Vonn at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
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Lindsey Vonn at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States competes during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States looks on at the finish during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 18: Lindsey Vonn of the United States starts looks on during the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill training on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 18, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn of the United States at a press conference at the Main Press Center on February 9, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States makes a run during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skiier and The United States enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States and Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway fist bump during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States starts a run during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Lindsey Vonn of the United States makes a run during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
USA's Lindsey Vonn takes part in the 2nd training of the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Laurenne Ross (L) speaks with USA's Lindsey Vonn after crossing the finish line of the 2nd training of the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Lindsey Vonn follows the 2nd training of the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States competes during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn (R) of the United States is consoled at the finish during the Ladies Super G Alpine Skiing on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 18: Lindsey Vonn of the United States looks on during the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill training on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 18, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of the United States applauds at the finish during the Alpine Skiing Ladies Super-G on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsey Vonn of USA competes during the Alpine Skiing Women's Super-G at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - USA's Lindsey Vonn reacts after crossing the finish line of the Women's Super-G at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 17, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Dimitar DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: United States alpine skier Lindsey Vonn attends her press conference at the Main Press Centre during previews ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
Alpine Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women?s Downhill Training - Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - The visor of Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. is seen. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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‘My body is broken beyond repair’

Vonn wavered on her retirement decision in 2018. She started out setting her sights on the world record, then backed off and decided even if she didn’t get it, 2018-19 would be her last.

When she crashed in Copper in November, she again rethought retirement since it meant missing one last go at Lake Louise, where she has 18 medals.

The skiing legend injured her left knee, tearing her LCL and suffering three fractures. She returned to race at Cortina last month and suffered yet another setback with an impact injury to a nerve in her knee.

It sparked initial concerns she wouldn’t be able to continue. She attempted rehab, but admitted she might not get the career ending she wanted. 

“Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can,” she wrote on Facebook. “My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of. My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen.” 

Record-setting career

Vonn stressed in her post that this was not her giving up, but a pivot into starting a new chapter. She wrote that retiring is not upsetting, but doing so “without reaching y goal is what will stay with me forever.”

She has 82 World Cup victories, the record on the women’s side and an aspect she reiterated she will be proud of forever.

“So please let my story be of comebacks, victories and even injuries, but do not tell my story as one of failures or unreached goals,” she wrote.

She has 20 World cup titles, three Olympic medals and seven World championship medals. She won gold in the downhill and bronze in the Super-G at the 2010 games in Vancouver. She added the bronze in Pyeongchang for her late grandfather. The St. Paul, Minnesota, native is one of six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing.

30 PHOTOS
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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When is Vonn’s final race?

The 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships will be held Feb. 4-17 in Sweden. Vonn is one of 13 skiers on the U.S. team.

Mikaela Shiffrin, often viewed as Vonn’s successor to the sport, will go for her fourth consecutive world championship slalom title. Joining the women’s roster is Alice Merryweather, Paula Moltzan, Nina O’Brien and Laurenne Ross.

As for Vonn, she said in her initial retirement decision that she wants to expand her Lindsey Vonn Foundation and start a small business of some sort.

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