Injured Vonn: 'It's hard to stay positive'
American skier Lindsey Vonn, a hopeful for as many as five medals over the next three weeks, said Wednesday morning that there is a possibility she won't be able to compete in the Vancouver Olympics because of a serious shin bruise she suffered last week in training.
"A very interesting ride," Vonn said at a packed news conference in Vancouver. "Very emotional. Very scared. And not the positive way you want to be starting the Olympics."
Vonn suffered the injury to her right shin while training for slalom last Tuesday in Austria. On the first run of the day, she said, she "got twisted funny and went over the front of my skis." She hyper-extended her leg and "all the force went onto my shin."
"It's probably the worst place that you can have an injury because you're constantly pushing against your boot," Vonn said.
Vonn, 25, is first scheduled to compete in the super combined event on Sunday, the first women's Alpine event of the Games. There are three scheduled training runs between now and then, and in order to compete, she must take at least one of those runs -- something she is unsure she'll be able to do. The first training run is scheduled for Thursday morning.
"Depending on how much pain I'm in, we can skip one of those training runs," Vonn said. "We can skip two if we absolutely had to. ... We have flexibility. We have a few days of time."
Asked whether there's a possibility she would miss all her events, Vonn said: "Yeah. That's a possibility."
Vonn was a contender for medals in 2006 at the Turin Olympics, but not the two-time overall World Cup champion she is today. Four years ago, in a downhill training run in San Sicario, Italy, Vonn suffered a horrific crash that put her in a helicopter to a Turin hospital. She raced less than two days later with a badly bruised back and pelvis.
"I'd say it's pretty similar, honestly," Vonn said. "But I feel like with a back injury, it's easier to push through. With a shin injury, there's no way around the pain. It's there constantly. I just put my boot on in the hotel room, and just standing there it was painful. Not even pushing on the front of it. It's pretty similar to Torino, but worse."
The injury has completely altered Vonn's preparation for her third Olympics. Instead of having three restful days at home in Vail, Col., the Minnesota native stayed in Austria for therapy and treatment. She went home for one day, but during a 30-minute news conference, her normal vibrant smile had been replaced by a crestfallen expression.
"It's hard to stay positive," Vonn said. "It's hard to focus on just being prepared for these Olympics when you have such a big injury like this. It's definitely changed my whole perspective coming into these Games. Definitely not the place I want to be."
February 10, 2010; 2:26 PM ET
Categories: Lindsey Vonn , Skiing
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