Ski star Lindsey Vonn will not be able to compete in the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi due to her knee injury, she said in a statement to "Today."
The four-time World Cup champion, who hoped to defend her Olympic gold in the downhill next month, has suffered several injury-related setbacks since a February 2013 high-speed crash on the slopes. Most recently, she had to skip several recent races and take time off after aggravating her right knee during a race in Val d'Isere, France, on Dec. 21. The latest combination of sprains "has made it impossible to stabilize her knee and be ready to safely ski again next month," according to a statement released Tuesday. The 29-year-old, widely considered the most accomplished female skier in U.S. history, plans to undergo another surgery soon.
"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 said in the statement. "I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February."
Vonn, who won two medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, tore two ligaments in her right knee and had to be airlifted to safety following a February crash at the world championships in Austria. She had surgery later that month, but one of those ligaments was partially re-torn in a November training crash.
Despite the injuries, Vonn had hoped to recover in time to defend her gold medal title in the women's downhill at the upcoming Winter Games, which begin Feb. 6. In a late November "Today" interview, Vonn told Matt Lauer, "I just want to get back in the starting gate."
“There definitely is a long ways to go there, but I'm confident that it's going to be okay," she said of her recovery efforts at the time. "At this point, that's all I can do — is stay positive. I'm kind of out of options at this point. I'm hoping that it's going to be stable and I'm hoping that I continue racing."
Vonn was able to return to competition briefly in early December, but sprained another major ligament while racing in France. While she won't ski next month, Vonn said she "will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA!"
"On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold," she said in her statement. "Thank you all so much for all of the love and support."