(Reuters) - Lindsey Vonn, widely regarded as the greatest-ever female Alpine skier, may have taken part in her last race, she said after skiing out of Sunday’s super-G in Cortina.
The 34-year-old American, who has been plagued by knee injuries, had planned to continue skiing until the end of this season but, in a tearful interview with Austrian state broadcast ORF, said she might hang up her skis immediately.
Vonn holds the women’s record of 82 World Cup wins and trails only Swede Ingemar Stenmark’s long-standing mark of 86.
“I didn’t want to stop but with my knee, it’s difficult,” she said, speaking in German. “The pain is too much... I don’t know what else I can do.”
Asked if Cortina had been her last race, she switched to English and said: “I think so... but I must think about it.”
Vonn had returned to action at Cortina, where she has won 12 World Cup races, for the first time since suffering a knee injury in training at Lake Louise in November.
She finished 15th in Friday’s downhill — which replaced the race canceled at St Anton in Austria the week before — and ninth in Saturday’s downhill.
“I feel really thankful that I’ve been able to do it for as long as I have,” she told reporters.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to Garmisch,” she said when asked about next weekend’s races. “I’m not sure if I can keep going....I have to really think things through the next few days and make some hard decisions.”
Since first tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in 2007, Vonn has suffered frequent knee injuries as well as broken bones. She missed the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games due to a serious knee problem which she has been managing ever since.
Vonn, who began skiing at the age of three and started racing at seven, has won the overall World Cup four times.
She won her only Olympic gold in the downhill at the 2010 Vancouver Games, where she also took bronze in the super-G.
Vonn became the oldest women’s alpine skier to win an Olympic medal when she claimed a downhill bronze in Pyeongchang last year.
American Mikaela Shiffrin won Sunday’s race to claim her third super-G victory this season and stay top of the overall World Cup standings.
The 23-year-old has a huge 596-point lead over Petra Vlhova and is on course for a third successive World Cup title. It was Shiffrin’s 11th win of the season in all disciplines and the 54th of her career.
Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond