Olympics: Vonn tests shin on skis for 1st time since injury
WHISTLER, British Columbia — Aided by painkillers and numbing cream, Lindsey Vonn tested her badly bruised right shin Thursday by skiing for the first time since getting injured last week — and she came away encouraged about her Olympic prospects.
The opening women's Olympic downhill training session was called off after only two racers because of thick fog and low visibility, but Vonn did get in a free run on the mountain — although not on the official course.
"I was happy to be back on snow today," said Vonn, who lives and trains in Vail, Colo. "My shin was still very painful, but I feel like the injury is finally progressing a bit. I am always disappointed when a training run is canceled, but in this situation I definitely welcome the extra day to heal."
Indeed, her husband, Thomas, called the cancellation "fantastic."
"It's not like all her competitors are getting multiple runs down the course. Nobody got to ski it, really, today," said Thomas Vonn, who serves as a coach and chief adviser to his wife. "So it's another day of healing, and hopefully tomorrow she feels even better."
He said his wife still aims to race in all five events at these Olympics, which certainly would be a relief to the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Olympic Committee and her fans — to say nothing of NBC and her various sponsors.
"She's never taken any races off the table. It's going to be a day to day: If she can do it, she's going to do it," Thomas Vonn said. "But she's not pulling out of anything at this point, and it's looking better than it was yesterday."
Before her injury became known, Lindsey Vonn was widely considered a candidate to win perhaps three or four medals — including an overwhelming favorite to win golds in the downhill and super-G — and become the breakout star of the Vancouver Games.
The first women's race of the Olympics, the super-combined, is scheduled for Sunday, and the outlook for Vonn was quite different Thursday, a little more than 24 hours after the two-time World Cup overall champion raised the possibility of not being able to compete at all.
"She had a smile today," Thomas Vonn said. "It's very encouraging. Like, it seems like it's kind of turning a corner, based off today."
Their Thursday began with Lindsey Vonn getting medical treatment to help her deal with the pain in the shin that she banged against her boot in a headfirst tumble Feb. 2 during pre-Olympic training in Austria.
Although a physical therapist recommended changing his wife's boot, possibly by cushioning where the top of the equipment meets the bruise, Thomas Vonn said they decided against that, because it might affect her performance.
Their Thursday was a matter of going through a checklist of steps to see how much she could do. First, putting on her ski boots, something that was painful and depressing every time she tried it last week.
Then doing a course inspection.
Then taking the free run.
"It looked solid," Thomas Vonn said. "She wasn't limping down the run, by any means. She was in quite a bit of pain, but she can deal with pain, as long as it's not debilitating pain."
The women's training was cut short after American Stacey Cook crashed landing a jump and was flown by helicopter to a medical facility. Injury details were not immediately available.
The men's downhillers managed to squeeze in a full training session Thursday, at least keeping a chance of racing as scheduled Saturday.