Lindsey Vonn, the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal for downhill skiing, has announced that she will not be competing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics due to a knee injury from last February.

Vonn Still Recovering From Knee Injury

Vonn broke the sad news on her official Facebook page Jan. 7, a month before the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony, in a message to her fans.

“I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi. I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level,” Vonn wrote.

Vonn injured her right knee while competing in the World Championships in 2013, when she crashed, tearing two ligaments, requiring surgery. Though she tried to heal in time for the Sochi Olympics, her knee continued to give her trouble during training, and she tore her ACL again while training in November. She returned to racing in December, but then was forced to withdraw from a World Cup race later that month. In her Facebook post, Vonn explains that she will soon undergo another knee surgery and plans to compete again soon.

“I’m having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February,” she stated.

Vonn is not the only one confident that she will return to professional racing. President of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, Bill Marolt released a statement in support of Vonn’s decision not to compete in the Sochi Olympics, saying, “In looking ahead, I have every ounce of confidence that Lindsey will be in the starting gate next World Cup season ready to compete.”

Vonn, 29, had been gearing up for her trip to the winter Olympics, and said that there was a silver lining to the situation:

“On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so one of my teammates can go for gold. Thank you all so much for all the love and support. I will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA!”

Olympians Support Vonn

Fellow Olympians were quick to reach out to Vonn during this difficult time. Evan Lysacek, U.S. figure skater who was also forced to withdraw from the Sochi Olympics due to injuries, tweeted his support following the announcement.

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who was forced to withdraw from the 2012 London Olympics due to injury, also expressed her support for Vonn, telling Today, “It’s a hard thing to go through, but I think I came out of it stronger than ever…Lindsey has gotten hurt and come back a couple of times. She is like Ironwoman. This might not be her year, but in four years, it definitely will be.”

No announcement has been made as to who will replace Vonn in the competition, and many worry that the U.S. has lost their most recognizable athlete for the winter games.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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