VAL D’ISERE, France – Lindsey Vonn felt her injured right knee give way and for a moment it looked like her chances for another Olympic gold might be in jeopardy.
Vonn had another scary run during the World Cup downhill in Val d’Isere, clutching her knee in pain after losing her balance and missing a gate Saturday. But shortly afterward, she said no new damage had been done to the surgically repaired knee and her plans for the Sochi Olympics were still intact.
I didn’t hurt myself more than I’m already hurt, said Vonn, the reigning Olympic downhill champion. It was a small compression, and it was fully loaded on the right ski and my knee just completely gave out. I tried to pressure the ski again and it gave out again. I had no chance of making that gate, unfortunately.
With boyfriend Tiger Woods watching from the bottom of the slope, Vonn skied out after her left ski came up in the air, putting all her weight on the troublesome right leg. She was distressed after pulling up and looked close to tears as she clutched her knee.
Vonn needed surgery in February to reconstruct two knee ligaments after a crash at the world championships, and then partly re-tore one of them in November.
She said she will rest and expects to race again probably sometime in January as she follows a lighter program before the Olympics.
As much as time as I can give myself to really get as strong as I can, like I said, one maybe two races before the Olympics. That’s it, Vonn said. 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. I’m really going to be safe and smart as I can.
Vonn has five World Cup wins in Val d’Isere and also won two golds at the 2009 world championships – but those victories all came on two good knees.
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old American raced for the first time in 10 months. Still, she was buoyant after finishing only 0.04 seconds behind Dominique Gisin of Switzerland in Thursday’s second training run.
The thing is I have no ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). So unless I get surgery there’s nothing really magical that I can do that’s going to make it better, she said. I just can get my leg stronger, my muscle stronger and try and support it a little more. But that has a small impact. My knee is loose and it’s not stable and that’s the way it’s going to be from here on out. I just have to get used to it.