Johnson added that Goggia’s possible departure from the Olympics caused her to wonder if she should rethink her plans not to ski at Beijing.
“You kind of think, I don’t know, did I make the right decision?” she said.
She consulted again with her doctors, asking them if the inherent risk was the chance that she might crash again. What if she rehabbed her right knee, found a way to ski somewhat effectively and stayed upright? But Johnson was told that just skiing at 80 miles an hour, a typical speed in the downhill, could be significantly harmful to her knee.
“So I was like, I just can’t do this,” Johnson, who finished seventh in the downhill at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, said Monday.
The recovery Johnson faces will not be her first comeback from serious injury. She had to recover from a tibial plateau fracture to make the U.S. ski team competing in Pyeongchang. Seven months after those Olympics, she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in training and missed the entire World Cup season. In June 2019, she tore two ligaments in her left knee.
Now facing another reconstructive knee surgery, Johnson said she was motivated to make another comeback because so many other top racers had done so and gone on to record their greatest accomplishments. As an example, she mentioned Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who had his anterior cruciate ligament rebuilt last year after a fall in training and is having a dominant season this winter.
“You see that and we’re all optimists, we all hope this injury is the last one,” Johnson said. “You go through periods of time where it breaks your heart and it crushes you because the sport will never love you back. It just can’t because it’s a sport. But you love it so much you do it anyway.”