We will not know what the final race of Lindsey Vonn’s historic career will be like until Sunday, when she competes in the women’s descent at the 2019 Alpine Ski World Championships.
It will not matter, of course: there is nothing left to prove. However, for an athlete who fought constantly against injuries, and who saw his final super-G race end in ruin on Tuesday, a clean and hassle-free journey should not be too much to ask for.
Vonn announced last week his intention to retire after two final events at the world championships in Are, Sweden. She said it was time to listen to her body and tell her that she could no longer compete at the highest levels.
So it is fitting that she has the opportunity to close her extraordinary career with a strong race in the descent, an event she has conquered so many times, such as winning the Olympic gold in 2010 in Vancouver, the bronze in 2018 in Pyeongchang and 43 victories in The World Cup. More than half of his total career.
His shock on the super-G was hard to see. He lost control from the start and threw himself against a door before sliding headlong into safety nets. Technically, the most winning alpine skier could not finish.
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Vonn, 34, finally recovered with the help of security officers and finished the race alone, although obviously not at the speed of the race.
That moment was painfully symbolic of his career; She, for years, has refused to resign after violent and brutal injuries. He fought to win three Olympic medals (despite missing the Sochi 2014 games due to an injured knee), seven World Championship medals and a women’s record of 82 World Cup victories.
And now, her body just can’t take it anymore.
“I am struggling with the reality of what my body is telling me versus what my mind and heart believe I’m capable of,” Vonn wrote in her retirement announcement Friday on social media.
“The unfortunate reality is my mind and body are not on the same page. After many sleepless nights, I have finally accepted that I cannot continue ski racing.”
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But even if Vonn does not win his final race downhill, even if he does not make it to the podium or, once again, does not even finish, the results of his last event and the world championships in general could never diminish his extraordinary career and impact.
“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!”
Vonn also transcended the limited appeal of his sport: most people pay attention once every four years to become a household name. People celebrate when they win and worry when they crash, and pay attention to their high profile personal life. She has brought more female skiing fans than anyone could have predicted.