U. S. gold medalist Lindsey Vonn was speaking from her heart when she said she was devastated to miss the Winter Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.

She is not only a gifted athlete, but also a fierce competitor.

Yes, one can easily believe she is indeed devastated. She reinjured her surgically repaired knee in November. She suffered another knee injury two weeks later. Vonn made the wise, difficult decision that she was not ready for the intense competition ahead.

Vonn has competed at extraordinary levels for years. Her gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games was the first Olympic downhill medal for an American woman. She also won a bronze for the super-giant slalom. She is also a four-time overall World Cup champion.

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Throughout her career, she has skied, competed and triumphed with aches and injuries that sideline athletes with a less tenacious spirit.

In preparation for the 2014 Games she was testing her strength and conditioning at races right to the bitter end — until her decision to allow herself to fully heal.

Naturally the absence of her star power is a disappointment for the network and commercial sponsors of the games. Maybe a hockey scandal will perk up their spirits.

Vonn has reached that point in the arc of fame where her private life draws as much attention as her exploits on the ski slopes.

She is already thinking about the 2015 World Championships. It is what hard-core competitors do. In the meantime, her fans should respect her difficult decision, and wish her a full, robust recovery.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).