Winter Olympics: Vonn’s shin feeling effects of bumpy course
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
WHISTLER, British Columbia— The bumpy and jarring downhill training course didn’t do Lindsey Vonn’s badly bruised shin any favors.
Calling it “probably the worst course for my shin,” the American Alpine star finished the more testing upper section in the fastest time of the morning training runs Monday — 1 minute, 30.75 seconds, or 0.39 seconds faster than teammate Julia Mancuso.
Skiing the much shorter bottom section after the men’s downhill finish, Vonn finished in 18.52 seconds, good for 20th and 0.73 seconds behind Sweden’s Anja Paerson.
Those two runs now behind her, Vonn wouldn’t mind seeing Tuesday’s downhill training session postponed by weather — giving the shin yet another day to heal.
She was fine — all things considered — until landing on the last jump.
“That really hurt,” Vonn said. “It’s throbbing really bad.”
If race officials decide to only run half of the course Tuesday — just to give the skiers more time on the slope — Vonn may elect to skip it.
She’s already fulfilled the requirement, according to race protocol, of all skiers running the course on the same day at least once. So she’s all set for the women’s downhill scheduled for Wednesday — bumps and all.
“The course here is just so bumpy,” Vonn said. “I honestly was pretty shocked. It’s one thing when you inspect it and you’re like, ’OK, this is going to be a little rattley.’ But it was jarring. It was a fight just to make it down the whole way.”
Vonn bruised her right shin during a pre-Olympic practice in Austria on Feb. 2. She stayed off skis for more than a week, but tested the injury — with encouraging results — in an unofficial slalom training run Sunday.
The shin was a little tender Monday morning, but that was to be expected. And it didn’t seem to hurt her skiing that morning.
“After skiing four runs of pretty good intensity slalom on salted snow, with the conditions the way they are here now, I think even if you had healthy shins, you’d probably have a sore shin today,” said Thomas Vonn, who serves as a coach and adviser to his wife. “She’s happy to be where she’s at, as opposed to where she was a couple of days ago.”
Vonn took painkillers and placed numbing cream on her shin — the same treatment she’ll more than likely use the rest of the time in Whistler.
Asked if he thought his wife would still race in all five events at the Olympics, Thomas Vonn said: “She’s scheduled to do it. I don’t see any reason why she’d pull out of any of them.”
Lindsey Vonn had no idea she had been fasteest in the morning downhill run. In fact, the news came as quite a shock since she almost skied out in certain parts.
“It wasn’t bad skiing; it was just fighting to make it down skiing,” Vonn explained. “I’ve never run a course this bumpy before. It’s not a feel-good course. It’s not a fun course. It’s a just stick-your-nose-in-it-and-make-it-down (course). If you’re aggressive and not sliding, I think you’ll be fast. I know what I have to do. I know how to ski it. It’s just a matter of fighting through the pain.”
Before Monday, the women’s downhill training run was wiped out three times by weather. The delays due to fog, snow and rain have definitely helped Vonn but it’s left the course in less than stellar condition.
“It’s so bumpy,” said Maria Riesch, who finished the upper section of the training run 1.79 seconds behind Vonn, a top rival and good friend. “It’s just a fight from the top to the bottom, and that’s not so much fun. But everybody has to do it. I hope they maybe get it a little bit smoother for the race.”
U.S. skier Stacey Cook was 20th after the top section, 1.89 seconds behind Vonn, but that was secondary to her. The morning run for Cook was all about easing her mind after her crash during Thursday’s abbreviated training schedule. She was the second — and final — women’s skier to go through the course, before training was halted because of thick fog and low visibility.
Cook said she remembers nothing about the crash, which left her with pain and stiffness but no serious injuries.
“But just knowing that it happened and knowing to go back out there and do it again, it was so hard,” said Cook, who’s from Mammoth, Calif. “My body feels fine. I can work through all that, and there was so much adrenaline. Just mentally I was so nervous in the start.”
In the shorter afternoon run, Cook had a solid performance, finishing 0.59 seconds behind Paerson’s time.