December 29, 2013

No date set for Vonn’s return

Lindsey Vonn, recovering from a knee injury, may not compete before the Olympics.

By Eric Willemsen
The Associated Press

LIENZ, Austria — Lindsey Vonn’s head coach says no date has been set for the injured skier’s return to the World Cup, and that she might not compete at all before the Sochi Olympics in February.

Vonn flew back to Vail, Colo., last week after hurting her surgically repaired right knee at a downhill race in France.

“Her knee was swollen again after Val d’Isere,” U.S. women’s head coach Alex Hoedlmoser told The Associated Press. “She is working with the guys from (her own team) Red Bull and the medical staff to get that under control.”

Hoedlmoser added that “there is no decision yet if, or where she is going to race ahead of the Olympics.”

Vonn needed surgery in February to reconstruct two knee ligaments after a crash in super-G at the world championships, and then partially re-tore one of them in November.

Vonn returned to the World Cup in Lake Louise, Alberta, in the first week of December and finished 40th and 11th in two downhills before placing fifth in super-G the next day.

After the next setback in Val d’Isere, Vonn said she would compete in “one maybe two races before the Olympics.”

“I’m going to play it safe and race minimal races, so I can get the confidence and the timing and the feeling of racing again,” Vonn said last weekend. “I’m really going to be safe and smart as I can.”

Vonn hopes to defend her Olympic downhill title on Feb. 12. The women’s super-G in Sochi is three days later.

“Lindsey prefers to work quietly on her comeback,” Hoedlmoser said. “We are in contact regularly but I am too far away to judge the situation so I leave it to her and her team now.”

The next World Cup speed races are Jan. 9-12 in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, where Vonn won a super-combined event in 2009. Hoedlmoser said he can’t predict whether Vonn might start in the Austrian resort.

“She has indicated she might consider racing Cortina (on Jan. 16-19) but it’s too early to say that she’s going to,” Hoedlmoser said. “Maybe she won’t race at all if she feels she can do without another race in her preparation for Sochi. I think she’s handling it well and she’s determined to race in Sochi.”

According to American teammate Mikaela Shiffrin, Vonn has been “trying to stay quiet” since leaving the World Cup circuit last week. Shiffrin was convinced that Vonn was doing everything possible to make it to Sochi.

“She is a tough girl, competing with a knee that just has a mind of its own right now,” Shiffrin said. “I think they’ll figure something out so she can be at her best.”

Shiffrin expected Vonn “to do a few races and to really save up so she can try to perform and represent the U.S. in the Olympics.”

“I think that’s still her goal,” Shiffrin said. “They’ve been working on helmet designs ... it looks like her helmets are sweet and I am sure she’s fired up to still try to race the Olympics.”

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