Lindsey Vonn, husband divorcing

ASPEN, Colo. -- Lindsey Vonn will keep her married name even after splitting with her husband, Thomas Vonn.

The Olympic gold medalist skier confirmed the couple has started divorce proceedings after more than four years of marriage.

Thomas Vonn, who told The Associated Press he filed for divorce last week, will no longer have a role as her chief adviser on and off the slopes.

"This is an extremely difficult time in my personal life and I hope the media and my fans can respect my need for privacy on this matter," she said in a statement to the AP on Sunday night.

Lindsey Vonn was known as Lindsey Kildow before marrying on Sept. 29, 2007. And although she had success before her marriage, she reached superstar status over the last few years and became one of the few Winter Olympians to parlay her success in sports into lucrative endorsements and celebrity status.

This summer, Vonn won the best female athlete category at the ESPY Awards.

While in Los Angeles for the ceremony, she rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, taking photos with Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and singer Justin Bieber.

She added in her statement that she will continue to be coached by the U.S. team and looks forward to competing the rest of the season.

Vonn skipped the season-opening World Cup slalom Sunday after slightly injuring her back during training. She plans to return to the slopes Tuesday for a downhill training run in Lake Louise, Alberta, the site of the next competition.

Vonn became one of the faces of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, winning a gold medal in the downhill and a bronze in the super-G -- all on a badly bruised shin.

Her moment in Vancouver was years in the making, beginning when her father, Alan Kildow, introduced her to skiing. He even moved the family to Colorado to foster that passion for the slopes.

But the 27-year-old skier had a falling out with her father a few years ago. By all accounts, the feud began before the 2006 Turin Olympics. The escalating tension stemmed in part from her relationship with Thomas Vonn, a former U.S. Olympic skier who is nearly nine years older.

Over the years, Thomas Vonn became her rock of support. He helped coordinate interviews, provided tips on the course and tended to logistics, freeing Lindsey Vonn to concentrate on what she does best -- ski fast.

She has blossomed into one of the top racers in U.S. history, winning three overall World Cup titles. She also has 42 World Cup wins, tying her with Sweden's Anja Paerson for fourth place on the career list.

With last month's giant slalom victory in Austria, Vonn became just the fifth female skier to win a race in all five Alpine disciplines. She's also the second American skier to complete the discipline sweep, joining Bode Miller.

Provided her back is fit, Vonn could add to her victory total this week at Lake Louise, on a hill where she usually skies well. She has 14 top-three finishes at the venue, including eight wins.