Lindsey Vonn can’t bring herself to say goodbye to ski racing without one final run at her favorite course.
So she intends to extend her farewell tour into next season.
The all-time winningest women’s World Cup racer announced on her new YouTube channel Friday that she plans to come back for one more series of speed races at Lake Louise, Alberta, during the 2019-20 season.
She was adamant she would retire following this season. But those plans were altered when she hyperextended and sprained a ligament in her knee during a training crash on Nov. 19. She posted video of the crash in which she fell on a turn, did the splits and went into the protective fence. She also suffered a bone bruise.
That wipeout forced her skip the speed events this weekend in Lake Louise, which she’s dominated so often that her fans playfully call it “Lake Lindsey.” Vonn has 18 career World Cup wins at the venue.
“The whole point of having one last season is to have one last season — to race in every single race one last time, to make those final memories,” Vonn said in her video. “Because I’m injured now, I can’t have that, and I feel like I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t take that one last chance to push out of the starting gate in Lake Louise.”
Vonn hasn’t announced a timetable for her return to the circuit this season. She expressed her frustration in sitting out two downhill races and a super-G race at Lake Louise.
“To miss my favorite stop on the tour is devastating to put it lightly,” Vonn said. “I know I’m going to be back shortly, probably be able to race in a few weeks. The fact I’m missing Lake Louise is a huge blow for me.
“The whole point really is to enjoy every stop on the tour, really make some great final memories, take a lot of pictures, enjoy the time with my teammates, just really soak it all in. To miss my favorite stop on the tour, I don’t even know really how to handle it.”
The 34-year-old Vonn has 82 World Cup victories, leaving her five away from breaking the record held by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden.
“Hopefully, I break the record this season and can have fun,” said Vonn, who earned a gold medal in the downhill and a bronze in the super-G at the 2010 Vancouver Games, along with a downhill bronze at the Pyeongchang Olympics last February. “I don’t want the record to determine the level of success I’ve had in my career.
“I want to push out of the starting gate (at Lake Louise), even if I’m not there to win. Lake Louise is just really special to me. It’s not about the record. It’s not about, ‘Oh, well you said you retired.’ I really don’t care what people think. I really don’t. I want to do it for myself.”
Still, it does provide a safety net.
“Let’s put it this way: She has one target. That’s very obvious. Lake Louise for her, it’s a really good chance to get some victories,” Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway said Friday after finishing third during the downhill race at Beaver Creek, Colorado. “She has this one thing that’s a crazy driver for her.”
Over her career, Vonn’s had a long list of ailments : ACL reconstructions, fractures near her left knee joint, bruised shin, broken ankle, broken arm, sliced right thumb and countless concussions. She missed the 2014 Sochi Games due to her right knee.
Her latest crash happened at the U.S. ski team’s speed center in Copper Mountain, Colorado. She was cruising down the course — snow flying everywhere — when she slid out.
“I don’t have a lot of fight left in me. I’ve had a lot of surgeries. I’ve had a lot of injuries, a lot of setbacks,” Vonn said. “But I’m also not a quitter.
“For me, this last season is just to enjoy it, to have fun. I’ve got a lot of pictures I need to take. ... I’m going to be super sentimental. I’m probably going to cry a lot. But it’s going to be fun.”