DENVER - Lindsey Vonn transcended her sport in a way only a handful of Olympic athletes could even imagine. She was about more than skiing. She was about more than medals. She was about more than winning.
She was often in the spotlight, appearing in the pages of mainstream and sports magazines, walking the red carpets, mingling with A-list celebrities and dating high-profile sports figures.
The record-setting racer who grew up in Minnesota, then relocated to Colorado, became a household name in mountain towns and big cities — to people who knew a lot about racing and those who only tuned in every four years.
But now, conceding her body is “broken beyond repair,” Vonn is nearing the finish line for the final time. The woman who won more World Cup races than any other female is calling it quits at 34. On Friday, she said she’ll retire after the world championships this month.
Vonn’s original plan was to step away in December, after one final charge down the course in Lake Louise, Alberta — a course she won on so often it’s now named in her honor.
She was forced to move up her retirement due to persistent pain in both knees, which she fully realized after failing to finish a race in Cortina d’Ampezzo , Italy, last month.
Now, she’s down to two races: The women’s super-G on Tuesday in the Swedish resort of Are, and the downhill scheduled for Feb. 10.
“My body is broken beyond repair and it isn’t letting me have the final season I dreamed of,” Vonn wrote on Instagram. “My body is screaming at me to STOP and it’s time for me to listen.”
Vonn’s impressive resume: three Olympic medals, including downhill gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Four overall World Cup titles. And 82 World Cup wins, leaving her four behind the all-time mark held by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden.