Watch: Vonn to retire after February's world championships
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Watch: Vonn to retire after February's world championships

Video: AFP

Lindsey Vonn announced on Friday that she will retire from alpine skiing after the upcoming world championships, which start on Tuesday, after an illustrious 19-year career.

The 34-year-old has struggled with persistent injuries this season, and will come up four victories short in her bid to chase down Ingemar Stenmark's all-time record of 86 World Cup wins.

Vonn pulled out of last weekend's speed events in Garmisch Partenkirchen, having admitted that she may have competed in her final race after failing to finish a super-G in Cortina d'Ampezzo on January 20.

"The past two weeks have been some of the most emotionally challenging days of my life," Vonn said in a statement on Facebook.

"I am struggling with the reality of what my body is telling me versus what my mind and heart believe I'm capable of.

"After many sleepless nights, I have finally accepted that I cannot continue ski racing."

Vonn revived her hopes of chasing down Stenmark's total by winning five races last season, but a knee injury suffered at Lake Louise proved too difficult to fully recover from.

"Honestly, retiring isn't what upsets me," she admitted. "Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever."

The two-time Olympic champion also said on Friday that she had undergone surgery last year, before injuring her knee again in November.

Vonn will race in the world championship downhill and super-G races in Are, Sweden, aiming to rekindle some of the form that helped her win both races at the 2009 worlds in Val d'Isere.

The super-G kicks off the competition on Tuesday, with the downhill next Sunday.

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