Everyone knew this would be tough.
Lindsey Vonn is skiing in the final competition of her career following her retirement announcement last week. In her Facebook post she said her “body is broken beyond repair” and in her final runs at the 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, she’s still fighting body and mountain.
Vonn, 34, skied an abbreviated Alpine Super combined downhill course, as did all competitors due to visibility, as a training run and will take the final run of her career this weekend.
Vonn: ‘My rib kind of popped out’
Vonn, sporting the No. 1 bib, was back on the mountain Friday after crashing in the final super-G of her career earlier in the week. She raced with a black eye and fought through the pain, including a late-breaking issue.
“Two or three minutes before in the starting gate, my rib kind of popped out,” Vonn told NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce. “I definitely did not push hard out of the start, and the upper part [of the course] was kind of weird.
“In general, I think the bottom was really good and I’m glad I was able to get back out there today.”
She told the Associated Press the rib issue affects “moving in general,” but that since she’s had rib problems in the past she can “fix it before I have to ski.”
Vonn skied the eighth-fastest time in the first leg of a two-race event. Her time of 1:13.43 is .72 seconds behind the leader. She will not ski the slalom portion as she used the first leg as a warmup for the women’s downhill race Sunday after taking a crash into the fence earlier this week.
“Everything is so stiff,” Vonn told NBC Sports. “My right side, I landed on my arm and my face, and my left side I ran into the fence. I got in the hot tub a bit, got a lot of massage work.
“Thankfully my legs feel decent, minus my knees.”
Vonn is skiing after a preseason injury in November to her knee and further injury during what was her season-opener in January. She’s had six knee surgeries.
Vonn will ski final race in front of legend
Vonn will take her final competitive run down the mountain Sunday morning in the women’s downhill event at the world championships.
.@lindseyvonn will kick out of the start gate bib 1, using the DH of the AC as a training run for her the last race of her career Sunday. Alice Merryweather takes on today's AC, bib 14! 👑
— U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team (@usskiteam) February 8, 2019
She will retire as the most successful female skier in world history, currently with 82 World Cup victories. The mark is four behind male Swedish racer Ingemar Stenmark, whom Vonn has persuaded to attend her last race, per the Associated Press.
Vonn’s suit this weekend has blue and yellow trim for Stenmark. She first set out to break his record before retiring, but injuries halted the plan. She told the AP she was texting him and begging him to be at the race:
“Obviously we’re in Sweden but also because of Stenmark and how much he has meant to the sport. It’s something that has motivated me for a long time — his record — so I’m just paying my respects to him and this country.”
The women’s downhill is Sunday at 6:25 a.m. Vonn reiterated to the AP she’s aiming to win in her final race, not just take a celebratory run down the mountain.
“Whether I’m ready or not, I’m just going to go full throttle.”
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