Known as the most successful female ski racer in the world – Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.) – announced on Friday that she has decided to retire after what will be her eighth World Championships bid in Åre, Sweden.
Vonn is the only American woman to ever capture downhill gold at the Olympics and the only American woman with four World Cup overall titles. Six weeks after she turned 20, Vonn (then Kildow) produced her first World Cup victory in Lake Louise, Alberta. She has since captured an all-time win record on the women's side with 82 World Cup wins. In addition to her 2010 Olympic downhill gold and super G bronze and her 2018 Olympic downhill bronze, she holds seven World Championship medals, including double gold in 2009.
In her post on Instagram, she stated that she will compete in the downhill and super-G in Åre, which will be the final races of her career.
It’s been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life, but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing. I will compete at the World Championships in Downhill and SG next week in Åre, Sweden and they will be the final races of my career.
I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes. I have never wanted the storyline of my career to be about injuries and because of that I decided not to tell anyone that I underwent surgery this past spring. A large portion of cartilage that had delaminated from my bone was removed. My crash in Lake Louise last year was much more painful than I let on, but I continued to race because I wanted to win a medal in the Olympics for my late grandfather. Again, I rehabbed my way back this summer and I felt better than I had in a long time. Then I crashed in Copper this November and injured my left knee, tearing my LCL plus sustaining 3 fractures. Despite extensive therapy, training and a knee brace, I am not able make the turns necessary to compete the way I know I can. 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.
Honestly, retiring isn’t what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever. However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER!
I always say, “Never give up!” So to all the the kids out there, to my fans who have sent me messages of encouragement to keep going… I need to tell you that I’m not giving up! I’m just starting a new chapter. Don’t lose faith in your dreams, keep fighting for what you love, and if you always give everything you have you’ll be happy no matter what the outcome.
Thank you for the amazing years, for always supporting me, and for making my job so fun. Can’t wait to see some of you in the finish in Åre where I will give it my all one last time.
“Lindsey Vonn will be celebrated as not only the greatest U.S. female skier of all time, but as an athlete who has inspired people around the world, both in and out of the sport of ski racing, for many years,” said Tiger Shaw, President and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “We have been so lucky to have been able to share many of Lindsey’s extraordinary achievements, but now the time is right for Lindsey to call time on her incredible career. On behalf of everyone in the U.S. and throughout the global ski racing community, thank you Lindsey. You have consistently raised the bar, you have created a legacy that will live forever, and you have given us all some of the greatest memories in our sport.”
Vonn has won four World Cup overall championships—one of only two female skiers to do so, along with Annemarie Moser-Pröll—with three consecutive titles in 2008, 2009, and 2010, plus another in 2012. Vonn won the gold medal in downhill at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the first one for an American woman.
She has also won a record 8 World Cup season titles in the downhill discipline (2008–2013, 2015, 2016), 5 titles in super-G (2009–2012, 2015), and 3 consecutive titles in the combined (2010–2012).
In 2016, she won her 20th World Cup crystal globe title, the overall record for men or women, surpassing Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, who won 19 globes from 1975 to 1984. She has the second highest super ranking of all skiers, men or women. Vonn is one of 6 women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing—downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined—and has won 82 World Cup races in her career through February 3, 2018.
Her total of 82 World Cup victories is a women's record, surpassing Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria who had held the record since the 1970s. Only Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden with 86 World Cup victories has more. With her Olympic gold and bronze medals, 2 World Championship gold medals in 2009 (plus three silver medals in 2007 and 2011), and 4 overall World Cup titles, Vonn is the most successful American ski racer and one of the greatest of all skiers. In 2010, Vonn received the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award and was the United States Olympic Committee's sportswoman of the year.