Lindsey Vonn delays retirement after training crash

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Lindsey Vonn is pushing back her retirement by eight months after a training crash and knee injury kept her from competing at her favorite venue this week.

Vonn, who said last month that she would retire after this season ends in March, now plans to race at one World Cup stop next season at Lake Louise, Alberta, traditionally held the first weekend of December.

“I’m thinking at this point that I need to come back,” Vonn said in a video published Friday. “I know I’ve said many times that I’m not going to come back because my body can’t handle it anymore, but I was also planning on racing Lake Louise.”

Vonn said she sprained a ligament, bruised a bone and hyperextended a knee in a Nov. 19 training crash. She announced last week that the injury will prevent her from her planned season debut in Lake Louise this weekend.

In Friday’s video, Vonn said she would probably be able to compete in a few weeks. That means she will likely miss the first six of 17 scheduled speed races this season, also sitting out downhills and super-Gs in Switzerland and France the next two weekends. The first speed races of 2019 are Jan. 12-13 in Austria.

The absence hurts her chance of breaking the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn is four wins shy. When healthy, Vonn has averaged about seven wins per season in recent years.

Vonn has experienced the most success at Lake Louise, winning 18 times in 44 World Cup starts. It’s such a strong record that many have dubbed the venue Lake Lindsey.

“Whether I break the World Cup win record or not … if I don’t break it at the end of this year, it doesn’t matter,” Vonn said. “That really has nothing to do with me wanting to race in Lake Louise again. For me, Lake Louise has always been my spot.

“The whole point of having one last season is to have one last season, to race in every single race one last time, to make those final memories, and because I’m injured now, I can’t have that. I feel like I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t take that one last chance to push out of the starting gate in Lake Louise.”

Vonn said she cried in the hospital room after learning she would not race in Lake Louise this week.

“Hopefully I break the record this season, and I don’t even have to think about next year in Lake Louise,” she said. “I don’t want this record to determine the level of success that I’ve had in my career. … I think people forget that I have 20 more wins than any other female. … The record will not define me.”

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