Four-time World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn has decided to leave the tour until she can regain the strength she lost while battling an intestinal infection in November.
"After talking with my family and consulting with my coaches and trainers, I have decided to take a break from the World Cup circuit," Vonn said Monday in a statement posted on her Facebook page. "Since my intestinal infection last month, I have been struggling with my energy and strength. I believe that some time off the mountain will help me regain the physical strength that I require to compete at the level that I demand from myself."
One of Vonn's publicists, Lewis Kay, said she would be doing no interviews and he declined to divulge her whereabouts.
"There is no further comment besides her post on Facebook," Kay said.
Vonn was stricken by the intestinal problem while in New York for a U.S. Ski Team fundraising gala Nov. 7. It left her in pain so severe she was hospitalized for two nights after returning to her home in Vail. There she was on heavy pain medication, including morphine and Percocet, along with antibiotics to cure the cause of the problem.
Vonn typically is one of the strongest women on the World Cup, a point of pride for her. But she lost a lot of that fitness because of the toll the illness took on her, plus an estimated 10-11 days without training.
She finished 21st in a giant slalom in Aspen on Nov. 24, then won two downhills and a super-G at Lake Louise, Alberta, the following weekend. She has failed to finish three of the five races since then, and is fourth in the World Cup overall standings.
On Friday in Val d'Isere, France, she had an uncharacteristic fall in a downhill. Sunday in Courchevel, she fell again in the first run of a giant slalom.
After Sunday's race she posted a note on Facebook: "Hit a rock on my left ski in the GS and skied off course...struggling to find the energy I usually have...going to think hard over the next few days about my plan for the coming weeks and how to get strong again. Trying to stay positive. Now I'm packing up the Audi and heading to the airport."
Vonn was emphatic in Monday's statement that her sabbatical had nothing to do with suffering from depression, which she recently revealed to People magazine.
"I had completed that interview weeks before I was in the hospital with the intestinal infection," Vonn said.
It's not a bad time for her to take a break. The next six races on the schedule are technical events (slalom and giant slalom), which are not her specialty. Vonn dominates downhill and super-G, and those events don't appear on the schedule until Jan. 12-13 in St. Anton, Austria, on one of Vonn's favorite courses.
U.S. women's coach Alex Hoedlmoser told The Associated Press on Monday that Vonn's return "depends on how she's feeling and exactly what her condition is."
Vonn's weekly World Cup Diary, which she has done with The Denver Post since 2005, will be suspended while she is away from the circuit.
"I want to thank my sponsors for their continued support," Vonn said. "Most of all I want to thank my fans for all of the kind words and love you have shared with me. I wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday and look forward to getting back on the mountain in the new year."