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Injury forces Olympic champion Vonn to skip Sochi

One of the biggest names in winter sports has announced that she will not be able to compete at the Sochi Olympics. Lindsey Vonn has been plagued by a series of knee injuries over the past year.

The American downhill skier announced via her Facebook page on Tuesday that she would miss next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi because she required another operation on her injured right knee.

"I am devastated to announce I will not be able to compete in Sochi," Vonn said.

"I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level."

Vonn's injury trouble began last February when she tore two ligaments in her right knee during a high-speed crash in a super-G race at the World Championships in Austria. She then reinjured a surgically reconstructed ACL in a training run in November.

She returned to competition early last month, but sprained her MCL (medial collateral ligament) during a race in France later in December.

A rival's sympathies

The 29-year-old Vonn's German rival, Maria Höfl-Riesch, who missed the 2005 World Championships and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin due to injuries, expressed her condolences.

"I am really sorry for Lindsey, that's really difficult," Höfl-Riesch said in a statement released by the company that manages her affairs. "I can sympathize with how difficult the decision must have been."

Vonn, who is the girlfriend of American golfing star Tiger Woods, took two medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games, including the gold medal in the women's downhill. She is also a four-time overall World Cup winner and the only active skier with more than 50 World Cups wins.

pfd/ipj (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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