Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn said she will do everything she can to compete in the 2014 Winter Games after tearing two knee ligaments and breaking her leg in a crash at skiing’s world championships.
Vonn was evaluated and released yesterday from a hospital in Schladming, Austria, where she fell during the super-G race, the U.S. Ski Team said today in an e-mailed statement.
She plans to return to the U.S. for surgery, according to the statement, and will rehabilitate the injury with the goal of returning for the Olympics, which start a year from tomorrow in Sochi, Russia.
“I am also grateful to my fans for the outpouring of support, which has really helped me stay positive,” Vonn said in the statement. “I can assure you that I will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in Sochi.”
The 28-year-old American tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in her right knee and fractured a bone just below the joint, U.S. Ski Team Medical Director Kyle Wilkens said yesterday. She was airlifted to a local hospital.
Vonn probably will have surgery to repair just the ACL, according to Alexis Chiang Colvin, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She said that while Vonn could return to skiing in as little as six months, a full ACL recovery is critical.
“You need it for the cutting and pivoting motions,” Colvin said in a telephone interview yesterday. “If the ACL doesn’t heal properly, she won’t be able to return to skiing.”
Yesterday’s super-G race began 3 1/2 hours late because of fog. Vonn was in third place when she crashed while landing off a jump halfway through her run, and tumbled as she lost her ski.
The crash ended a difficult season for Vonn. She’s the most successful ski racer of her generation, and is three World Cup victories shy of tying the women’s record of 62 held by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell.
A four-time World Cup overall champion and two-time Olympic medalist, Vonn was hospitalized by an intestinal illness in November. At the end of 2012, she took a month-long break from skiing to recover and regain her stamina.
She’s third in this season’s World Cup overall standings, trailing leader Tina Maze of Slovenia by almost 1,000 points.
-- With assistance from Danielle Rossingh and Chris Elser in London. Editors: Larry Siddons, Christopher Elser