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. Update, 11:03 a.m. February 5: Our post this morning spotlighting Vail's Lindsey Vonn was lighthearted, focusing on her rumored relationship with golfer Tiger Woods and an Outside magazine cover that described her as perfect. But things didn't go perfectly at the ongoing skiing world championships in Austria. She reportedly wiped out during a Super-G race and was taken by helicopter to a local hospital.
According to the Associated Press, Vonn's injury -- she lost control after landing a jump and smashed into a gate -- doesn't appear to be life-threatening. Indeed, the main damage is said to have been done to her right knee. That's a big problem from a competitive standpoint, particularly considering that Vonn recently returned to the slopes after a month-long break caused by an intestinal disorder that also required hospitalization. But it won't hurt her standing with fans...including, possibly, a certain Mr. Woods.
Continue to read our previous item, complete with photos aplenty.
Original post, 7:50 a.m. February 5: Skier Lindsey Vonn is one of Colorado's most celebrated athletes -- but she seems to get as much attention for rumors about who she's banging as for victories on the slopes. Not that she doesn't fuel the frenzy. Whispers that she's getting horizontal with golfer Tiger Woods arrive at the same time as Outside magazine has listed her as the most perfect thing on its list of sixty -- a claim enhanced by a pic of her busting out of a bikini. Here's the full cover.
The Outside article that justified this image -- as well as a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot, also included below -- is a wide-ranging opus, juxtaposing discussions of her skiing accomplishments about personal-life details, including her 2011 divorce, which is now final.
Even before she was officially on the market, the grapevine suggested that Tim Tebow had helped break up Vonn's marriage -- a claim she took to Twitter to deny. But she's not exactly slapping down suggestions that she and Woods are an item. In a press conference for the Alpine world championships in Austria, which get underway today, she giggled while replying, "Oh, my God! I don't know -- you should ask him."
Tiger does seem to have a thing for Nordic-looking blonds....
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Look below for a Vonn photo gallery culled from shots she shares on her Facebook page, followed by the Outside photo shoot video.
Continue for more of our Lindsey Vonn photo gallery, including a video. Continue for more of our Lindsey Vonn photo gallery, including a video. Continue for more of our Lindsey Vonn photo gallery, including a video. Continue for more of our Lindsey Vonn photo gallery, including a video.
More from our Tech archive: "Lindsey Vonn tells Twitter Nation that Tim Tebow didn't break up her marriage."