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Top US downhill racer forced out of Winter Olympics

Breezy Johnson placed second behind Olympic champion Sofia Goggia in each of the three World Cup downhills she started this season.

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Province of Belluno — The United States team for next month's Olympics lost one of its top medal prospects Tuesday when downhill racer Breezy Johnson said injury will force her to miss the Beijing Games.

Johnson placed second behind Olympic champion Sofia Goggia in each of the three World Cup downhills she started this season, then crashed in training runs before two races in January.

“I have to announce that I have unfortunately injured my knee and must withdraw from the Olympics,” Johnson said on her Instagram account.

The 26-year-old racer crashed in training in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, last week, one week after skipping a downhill in Austria to let a cut and bruised knee heal.

Johnson wrote that in Cortina she “immediately felt a massive crack in my knee” and had dislodged cartilage.

“I was given the option to try to compete on it. But I don’t think that that is realistic or smart,” she said.

Johnson placed seventh in downhill at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

“It was the pleasure of my life to represent @teamusa at the Games in 2018,” Johnson said. “And all I have wanted ever since was to come back, stronger, faster, to win a gold medal.”

Credit: AP
United States' Breezy Johnson speeds down the course during an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill training, in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

The women’s downhill is scheduled for Feb. 15. Goggia, who has won four of five World Cup races, is also an uncertain starter after two crashes in January.

"This sport is brutal. Someone asked me yesterday why we do it. And at times like these you wonder," Johnson said. "But the truth is that, for me, the feeling of racing is the feeling of being truly alive, and so I will keep coming back every time. Because that feeling of skiing fast is worth everything." 

The Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony is on Friday, Feb. 4 and the Closing Ceremony is on Sunday, Feb. 20.