Lindsey Vonn changes course, says she will return next season — for one set of races

Beaver Creek — Lindsey Vonn’s announcement that she will return next season for one set of World Cup races – the first speed events of the season at Canada’s Lake Louise resort, where she has a history of dominance – didn’t exactly come as a surprise to the men racing downhill here on Friday.

Vonn, 34, had planned to retire after this season but a knee injury suffered while training Nov. 19 at Copper Mountain forced her to skip the races being held at Lake Louise this weekend. She plans to return this season, but the timing is yet to be determined. With 82 career World Cup wins, she needs five more to break Ingemar Stenmark’s all-time record.

Another World Cup old-timer, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, wasn’t surprised at all by the news.

“Let’s put it this way, she has one target, that’s very obvious,” the 35-year-old Svindal said after finishing third here in Friday’s downhill. “Lake Louise, for her, it’s a really good chance to get some victories. I think that’s your reason. She has this one thing that’s like a crazy driver for her.”

Vonn said the decision was driven by having to miss Lake Louise this season. She has piled up 14 downhill wins and four in super-G there over the years, making it her most successful venue by far. She made her announcement on a YouTube video.

“To miss my favorite stop on the tour is devastating to put it lightly,” Vonn said in her video. “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.”

Vonn said the record had nothing to do with her decision. Clearly she feels cheated by not being able to race this weekend at one of her favorite venues.

“Hopefully, I break the record this season and can have fun,” Vonn said. “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.”

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