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Photos: Lindsey Vonn announces she won't compete in Olympics

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Update, 6:59 a.m. February 7: Vail's Lindsey Vonn has made news of late for reasons that go well beyond her skiing skills -- like, for instance, her alleged dalliances with golfer Tiger Woods. But her massive wipe-out at the world championships in Austria has changed the narrative. She's now expected to return to Colorado for surgery, and while she's confident she'll be back in time for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, others aren't sure. Details, crash video and lotsa pics below.

As we reported below, Vonn, who's on the cover of the current issue of Outside magazine after topping its list of sixty "perfect" things, was competing in the Super-G at the world championships but lost control after a jump and smashed into a gate.

As a result, Vonn reportedly tore two knee ligaments (the ACL and MCL) and broke a bone in her lower leg (technically a lateral tibial plateau fracture).

Afterward, Vonn released a statement that reads in part, "I am grateful to my fans for the outpouring of support, which has really helped me stay positive. I can assure you that I will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in Sochi."

That won't be easy. Having more than a little experience with ACL injuries (my daughter has torn hers in both knees), I know that recovery takes a minimum of six months, but often considerably more than that -- and the additional MCL tear and bone fracture complicate things immeasurably, especially given the pounding Vonn gives her legs while competing at the highest level of her sport.

Add the fact that Vonn recently was on the shelf for a month with an intestinal condition that led to her hospitalization and you've got a challenge even Adrian Peterson might find daunting. After all, Vonn doesn't want the Sochi Olympics, slated to get underway approximately a year from now, to be her first time back on the slopes. Rather, she's targeting the World Cup speed races taking place in Lake Louise, Alberta, circa November/December.

What are her odds? Time magazine put that question to Dr. Jo Hannifan, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery who served as a physician for the United States Olympic Committee for the 2004 games in Athens. "The issue with injury and surgery is that things are never perfect," she notes. "And there's the psychological challenge. But I wouldn't think that would have much of an effect on her."

Indeed, Vonn isn't an injury novice, having hurt herself in competition many a time, including a training crash at the 2006 Olympics in Torino and notable tumbles in 2007 and 2009. And while her wounds from Austria are the worst of her sparkling career to date, Hannifan says, ""If anyone can do it, she can. She's really an astonishing athlete."

Here's video of her fateful Super-G run earlier this week, followed by our earlier posts.

Continue for our previous coverage, including Vonn's Outside magazine cover, an accompanying video and a photo gallery.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts