Top U.S. Women's Downhill Skier Breezy Johnson Pulls Out of Beijing Olympics After Knee Injury

"Sorry guys. I just can't," Breezy Johnson began an Instagram post announcing her withdrawal from the upcoming Winter Olympics

breezy johnson
Photo: Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Breezy Johnson, the top women's downhill skier for Team USA, has pulled out of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics after suffering an injury to her knee.

The 26-year-old from Wyoming made the heartbreaking announcement through an Instagram post late Monday night.

"Sorry guys. I just can't," Johnson began the post, which was shared alongside a picture of herself skiing. "I have to announce that I have unfortunately injured my knee and must withdraw from the Olympics. It was the pleasure of my life to represent @teamusa at the Games in 2018."

Johnson said she could not compete after tearing cartilage in her right knee, an injury that was caused by a crash while training in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, last week.

"And all I have wanted ever since was to come back, stronger, faster, to win a gold medal," she explained. "But I crashed in Cortina the other day and immediately felt a massive crack in my knee. It was a large chunk of cartilage that is partially dislodged. I was given the option to try to compete on it. But I don't think that that is realistic or smart. I could do more damage and I certainly don't think I will be skiing my best."

The 2022 Olympics would have been Johnson's second appearance at a Games following her debut in PyeongChang in 2018, where she finished seventh in downhill and 14th in super-G.

Breezy Johnson
Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty

"I love the sport of ski racing and I wanted so badly to realize my dream of becoming an Olympic Champion. To bask in the glow of that sunset. But the reality is that the risks, and there are always risks, are no longer worth it," Johnson said in her post.

"This sport is brutal. Someone asked me yesterday why we do it. And at times like these you wonder," she continued. "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."

According to the New York Times, Johnson had finished second in the last three World Cup downhill races she competed in, and had been experiencing the best season of her career.

Johnson told the outlet she expects to have surgery on her knee when she returns to the U.S. and expects to race next season.

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"Luckily I've been a big fan of ski racing since I was a little kid," Johnson said on Instagram.

"So while I always wanted to win an Olympic gold medal I have a lot of other goals in ski racing. Goals that I can work on for the next four years," she added. "Before I return, hopefully, to the hill that stole this Olympic dream from me, for another shot at that gold medal. 2026 baby #lfg"

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, beginning Feb 3, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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