Naperville-native Evan Lysacek knows what Minnesota ski star Lindsey Vonn is going through.
The American figure skating champion announced last month that he would not be competing in the Sochi Games because of a hip injury.
And now, due to a knee injury, Lindsey Vonn has had to do the same.
“I’m just disappointed for my friend, and I know what she’s going through,’’ Lysacek told TODAY.com. “I know what she’s put into getting back and healthy and know what this meant to her. That’s why my heart is broken for her today."
Vonn, the four-time World Cup champion, who hoped to defend her Olympic gold in the downhill next month, has suffered several injury-related setbacks since a February 2013 high-speed crash on the slopes. Most recently, she had to skip several recent races and take time off after aggravating her right knee during a race in Val d'Isere, France, on Dec. 21. The latest combination of sprains "has made it impossible to stabilize her knee and be ready to safely ski again next month," according to a statement released Tuesday. The 29-year-old, widely considered the most accomplished female skier in U.S. history, plans to undergo another surgery soon.
"I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level," Vonn said in the statement. "I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February."
Lysacek offered his sympathies to Vonn Tuesday, and said he knows “what goes into to even getting this close.”
"It's a difficult decision, for sure," Lysacek said of not competing in Sochi.
Despite her injuries, Vonn had hoped to recover in time to defend her gold medal title in the women's downhill at the upcoming Winter Games, which begin Feb. 6. In a late November "Today" interview, Vonn told Matt Lauer, "I just want to get back in the starting gate."
She was able to return to competition briefly in early December, but sprained another major ligament while racing in France. While she won't ski next month, Vonn said she "will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA!"
"On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold," she said in her statement. "Thank you all so much for all of the love and support."