Lindsey Vonn won't ski slalom, GS


GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- Lindsey Vonn pulled out of her remaining events at the world championships Monday, finally succumbing to a head injury that many thought should have ruled her out of the event in the first place.

Vonn made her decision after consulting with U.S. women's team head physician William Sterett, who has been administering a series of concussion protocol exams on her daily for the past week.

"Coming into this championship my plan was to race in all of the events, but I've decided to pull out of all the remaining events here in Garmisch," the three-time defending overall World Cup champion wrote on her Facebook page.

"My plan now will be to take some time off and try to get 100 percent healthy again. My hope is that I will be healthy and fresh when the World Cup tour resumes at the end of the month in Are, Sweden."

Vonn sustained a mild concussion during training in Austria the week before worlds and was clearly not her normal self during her opening events, reporting that she felt like she was "skiing in a fog."

That Vonn was cleared to ski when still reporting such symptoms drew a wave of criticism. After all, if a second impact occurs before someone completely gets over an initial concussion, it could have life-altering effects.

Vonn had a head scan the day after her crash but was never banned from skiing by the U.S. team. She passed a series of concussion protocol exams multiple times each day during the championships.

"It's been a really difficult few weeks and at every stage, I've had 100 percent confidence in the medical advice I've been provided and believe we've made the right decisions," Vonn said. "I'm a competitor and I love to race, that's what makes this a really tough choice, but I do feel it's the right one."

Vonn finished seventh in super-G, pulled out after the downhill portion of the super-combined and took silver in the downhill Sunday.

She will miss the giant slalom and slalom, plus the team event.

Vonn will be heading out of Garmisch but will remain in Europe as she recovers, said U.S. Ski Team spokesman Doug Haney.

"She will continue to be evaluated throughout the whole period leading up to Are and once she's confident to get back to competition mode she'll make a decision about entering the training runs there, that's her goal," Haney said.

The opening downhill training run in Are is scheduled for Feb. 23.

But there is no guarantee that Vonn will race in Are, or anywhere else for the rest of this season, if she doesn't start feeling better.

"Anything is possible at this point, but a decision on Are will be made as it gets closer," Haney said. "Her ultimate goal is to get back into the starting gate in Are."

Vonn trails German rival and good friend Maria Riesch by 156 points in the overall World Cup standings, with four more stops remaining this season.

Vonn has been bothered by injury at her last five major championships.

At last year's Vancouver Olympics, she battled through a severely bruised shin to win the downhill and take bronze in the super-G.

At the last worlds in Val d'Isere, France, she sliced her thumb open on a champagne bottle after sweeping gold in downhill and super-G, forcing her out of the giant slalom.

At the 2007 worlds in Are, she injured her knee in training and missed the slalom and giant slalom; and at the 2006 Turin Olympics, she had a horrific crash in downhill training and went directly from her hospital room to the mountain to compete in four of her five events.