By Simon Evans and Rory Carroll
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – American Lindsey Vonn ended her Olympics on Thursday vowing that she would not quit the sport until she had beaten Ingemar Stenmark’s record of World Cup wins and become the most successful skier of all time.
Vonn, who picked up a bronze in the downhill in Pyeongchang, skied out of the slalom stage of the combined event on Thursday after posting the quickest time in the downhill leg.
The 33-year-old has said this is probably her last Olympics but she is determined to add six more wins to her 81 World Cup triumphs and break Stenmark’s milestone.
“I am hoping that is just one season. I am not going to quit until I get that record, that is for sure, no matter how much pain I am in,” Vonn told reporters.
“But I really hope it only takes one more season because it would be difficult for me to continue on after that,” she added.
If Vonn does need a second season to get past Stenmark’s record she might think about extending her career.
“If for some miracle I make it to after next season then maybe I would consider continuing on, it all depends on my health. You can guarantee that I am going to continue fighting until I get that record,” she said.
But Vonn, who won Olympic downhill gold in Vancouver in 2010 but missed out in Sochi four years ago due to injury, said she felt emotional that she was probably at her last Olympics.
“I am just sad. I am a racer and I love racing and the Olympics are the pinnacle of our sport and I love it. I love being in the starting gate, it is just a totally different experience, I am going to miss it a lot,” she said.
“My mind is still telling me I can do things that my body is telling me I can’t. So that is reason why it is frustrating for me because I would love to keep going.
“I wish I could tell you that I was going to race in four years and be a competitive threat but unfortunately it’s just not the way it is,” Vonn said.
The Minnesota-born skier said her performance in the slalom section on Thursday was a stark example of how she can no longer compete in the way she used to.
“It’s frustrating because in my mind I know what I am capable of but my body just doesn’t follow. When you get to a certain point after a certain amount of injuries you just can’t get back to the level you were at,” she added.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)