Lindsey Vonn's pursuit of a fifth overall World Cup title came to an abrupt end Wednesday when she announced that a recent knee injury is worse than originally diagnosed.
"Today I am making the difficult decision to end my season and leave the World Cup circuit due to an injury I suffered last Saturday," she stated on social media. "Because I am currently leading the overall World Cup standings, this is one of the toughest decisions of my career."
Initial tests showed that Vonn suffered a hairline fracture in her left knee when she crashed during a super-G race in Andorra last weekend. She skied the following day and finished 13th in a combined event.
"I went to Barcelona where more precise MRI and CT equipment was available and scans were performed on Tuesday morning," she said. "Those images showed that there was not just 1 hairline fracture, but in fact 3. And the fractures are not hairline, but instead they are significant enough that they are not sufficiently stable to permit me to safely continue skiing."
Though Vonn led rival Lara Gut in the standings with only eight races remaining, doctors warned that further damage to the knee could require career-threatening surgery.
"With the World Championships in St. Moritz next year and the Winter Olympics in South Korea the following year, I cannot take that risk," Vonn said.
The 31-year-old skier missed the 2016 Sochi Olympics after multiple surgeries to her right knee. Since returning, she has closed in on Ingemar Stenmark's all-time record of 86 World Cup wins, a mark she could surpass in coming seasons.
"While I am confident that I'm making the right decision, it still doesn't make this decision any easier." she said.