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Vonn's health much improved after hard training run

American skier Lindsey Vonn trained hard on her badly bruised shin Sunday afternoon, her first true training session since the injury occurred Feb. 2. The result? An Olympic program that once appeared in jeopardy is now back on, and Vonn is now focused on maximizing her performance, not just getting in shape to compete.

"She's not in the mind-set that, 'I hope I can do this, I hope I can be ready for the races,'" her husband, Thomas Vonn, said in a telephone interview. "Now, it's more of a determination to get back some of the mileage that she lost and start to get up to race speed. ...

"It's shifted to a different gear. The pain is still there, but it's not even close to where we were."

Because the Whistler weather has been alternately snowy, rainy, foggy and warm, the women's Alpine skiers have not completed a full training run over a period when they were supposed to have held three training sessions and the super combined race, which was originally scheduled for Sunday but has been postponed until Thursday. Now, Vonn's first race will be Wednesday's downhill, and her first official training session could be Monday -- meaning she has had four extra off days to care for the shin as she saw fit.

But because the bruise was healing, Vonn and her husband -- who also serves as a coach and advisor to the two-time World Cup all-around champion -- decided to test the injury by training slalom on Sunday. It was in such a training session that Vonn originally suffered the injury, which a week ago was so painful she could not slip on her ski boot.

"We didn't know what it would do," Thomas Vonn said. "We went out there with the hope that she'd be able to train. We thought she'd start free skiing to see how it would feel, then take it from there.

"We evaluated where it was, and she said, 'This is working.' Obviously, it's still painful, but it was enough to where she could do it without doing more damage. But every step is a play-it-by-ear thing. You don't do one thing before you've gotten past the last step."

Vonn also stopped applying a topical, pain-relieving cream and is now only taking pain killers to deal with the problem. "Just over-the-counter stuff," Thomas Vonn said.

The slalom training session -- which was not part of the official Olympic schedule -- provided an extra boost of confidence because of the pressure the discipline, which involves several sharp turns, places on the shin. Vonn's injury, which ski racers refer to as "shin-bang," is directly at the point where the top of her boot meets her right shin, the point that receives pressure with each turn.

Thus, Sunday -- a day of questions about the schedule and twiddling thumbs for many racers -- was a significant day for Vonn, who is a gold medal favorite in two events and a contender for medals in three others.

"She'll be racing," Thomas Vonn said. "We're past the point where we're questioning whether she'll be able to compete."

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 14, 2010; 5:50 PM ET
Categories:  Lindsey Vonn , Skiing , Vancouver 2010  
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