Picabo Street: Vonn made right decision, but it’s still a disappointment

U.S. skiing star Lindsey Vonn will not compete in Sochi due to a lingering knee injury.

Lindsey Vonn is out of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

When you read that line, it’s almost shocking — as Vonn is the most successful female alpine skier in American history, with 17 World Cup titles, and she was the defending Olympic gold medalist in women’s downhill.

I’m sad for Lindsey on a personal level, but I am relieved that she has made the decision to take care of her body, as I’m sure she is too.

As you may recall, she sustained an injury to her right knee on Feb. 5, 2013 during a crash in the opening race of the World Championships in Schladming, Austria, which kept her off the mountain until Aug. 31. She re-aggravated the same knee during a downhill training crash on Nov. 19 at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, Colo.

She returned to the World Cup tour Dec. 6-8 with a three-race series in Lake Louise, Alberta but a subsequent racing injury suffered Dec. 21 during a World Cup downhill in Val d’Isere, France, made it impossible to stabilize her knee and be ready in time for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.

That’s a lot of injuries to handle. I know what it is like to be inside a body that can’t do what I need it to so I can compete, at any level, and I feel for what she’s going through.

As painful as this is both mentally and physically for Lindsey, now she can clear the canvas and get ready to paint the ending to her career that she wants. She will set her sights on being ready to kick ass and take names in 2014-15 with a big emphasis on the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in her hometown of Vail/Beaver Creek, Colo.

She has a lot of goals still to reach, which should keep her hungry. Most notably, she is currently three World Cup wins shy of tying the women’s all-time record of 62 held by Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell.

Having said that, at age 29, four years is a LONG time, meaning we may have seen all we will see of her in the Olympic Games. That’s disappointing, without a doubt, but now it’s time for the ladies on the U.S. ski team to step up and seize the opportunity to make the team and go for gold!