(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
It would have been incredible — a miracle, even — to watch Lindsey Vonn whip down the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in Sochi this February. It was just under a year ago, after all, that the downhill gold medalist careened off the super-G course during the World Championships in Austria. After being airlifted and undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair several torn ligaments in her right knee, Vonn vowed to make it to Sochi.
But three months ago, she re-tore her right ACL, which was reportedly reconstructed using a 10-inch piece of Vonn's right hamstring. Ultimately, her Frankenstein knee proved too unstable and the 29-year-old announced today that she would not be able to compete in Sochi.
While we mourn the loss of the Olympic Games' cause cèlébre, let's take a look back at why Vonn remains the best U.S. female racer in history.
2008: Vonn takes a jump during the World Cup women's downhill race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, on Dec. 5, 2008. The then-24-year-old wins the overall World Cup title, becoming only the second American woman to do so. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
2009: Vonn clears a gate during the first run of the women's giant slalom world cup race in Linez, Austria, on Dec. 28, 2009. Vonn repeats as overall World Cup champion, breaking the American female record of 18 World Cup victories and set an American single-season record with nine World Cup wins. (REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler)
2010: Vonn speeds down the course during the women's downhill in Whistler, British Columbia, on Feb. 17, 2010. At the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Vonn wins the gold medal in the downhill, becoming the first American woman to do so. (AP Photo/Charlie Krupa)
2012: Vonn speeds down the super-G run of the women's alpine skiing World Cup Super Combined race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Dec. 7, 2012. Vonn's victories in 2012 made her the third most successful female World Cup racer of all time. (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)