Paris - 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... My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of."
Vonn's 82 World Cup triumphs included 43 in the downhill, 28 super-Gs, four giant slaloms, two slalom races and five combined events.
She 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 2010 downhill 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.
By her own high standards, Vonn has struggled at world championships, failing to win any other gold medals, with three silvers and two third-place efforts.
But she will retire as an all-time great of the sport, having also won four overall World Cup crowns, including three straight from 2008-2010.
"Over the past few years I have had more injuries and surgeries than I care to admit," she said.
"I have always pushed the limits of ski racing and it has allowed me to have amazing success but also dramatic crashes...
"I hope I can still ski with my kids some day. But even knowing what lies ahead for my body, it has still been worth it. I have always worked hard, fought back and dealt with whatever comes my way because I simply love skiing."
She will join Norwegian speedster Aksel Lund Svindal in bowing out after the worlds.
Her mantle as American ski queen will be taken over by Mikaela Shiffrin, who powered to a 12th World Cup win of the season earlier on Friday in Maribor as the 23-year-old continued her unstoppable march to emulating Vonn with a third consecutive overall title.