Lindsey Vonn’s quest for five Alpine skiing medals may be in serious jeopardy because of a serious shin injury suffered a week ago in training, the skier revealed Tuesday.
Vonn has had fluid drained from the deep bruise, which she has been told will take “a couple of weeks” to completely heal.
“It’s essentially a deep muscle bruise, so I have a contusion. So the muscle is bleeding and it's really deep inside the muscle,” the World Cup champion told TODAY’s Matt Lauer after arriving in Vancouver Tuesday.
“When I tried my boot on, I was just standing there in the hotel room barely flexing forward, and it was excruciatingly painful. And I've got to try to ski downhill at 75, 80 miles an hour with a lot of forces pushed up against my shin,” Vonn said. “I don't know honestly if I'll be able to do it.”
The injury could be a crushing blow to the 25-year-old Vonn, who was the best female skier in the world in both 2008 and 2009. Considered the best American female skier ever, she seemed a lock for multiple gold medals and a threat to win all five of her events.
Until the injury, Vonn had been in top form and was coming off a win in her final race before the Olympics.
“I won the last World Cup race. I felt perfectly healthy, I was happy, I was coming in with confidence, and now I have another injury,” she told Lauer. “I fought through injuries before and I'm no stranger to that, but it's going be really hard. I just have to try to stay positive and do the best I can, because that's all I can do.”
Lauer observed that Vonn comes to the Vancouver Games carrying a lot of pressure. “This has to multiply that pressure,” he said.
“Definitely,” she said. “That's why I wanted to tell you about it ... I at least want people to know what's going on, and if I don't perform well, why that is. But I can guarantee you that I'm going to do everything I can to be as ready as I can with this injury and still try to ski well.”
Playing it by ear
The first training run at Whistler Mountain for the first women’s event, the super combined, is Thursday and the race is Sunday. The women’s downhill, the premier alpine skiing event, is Wednesday, Feb. 17 with the Super-G on Saturday, Feb. 20. The giant slalom is Feb. 24 and the final event, the slalom, is Feb. 26.
Four years ago in Torino, Vonn’s medal hopes were dashed when she suffered a horrific crash in a training run for the downhill. She was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with a hip injury. Despite the damage and the pain, she entered the race two days later, finishing eighth.
Vonn has a history of coming back from injuries, but she looked concerned as she talked to Lauer about this one. “I’m a lot less sure about this injury than I have been in the past,” she said.
She said she feels fine until she puts a boot on and attempts to ski. Vonn said she will show up for the first training run Thursday and see how she feels. Under anti-doping rules, she can take pain killers but is not allowed to get a numbing injection into the injury.
“I feel OK now, but anytime I'm in my boot it’s painful, so I don't know. I've got to wait until the first training run on Thursday. I'm going to go up there, I'm going to put my skis on and see how it feels,” Vonn told Lauer.
“I have to play it by ear and see how it feels and take it day to day and just keep doing therapy and hope it gets better.”