Vonn upbeat despite big crash

Top alpine skier Lindsey Vonn vows to make 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi despite suffering a season-ending leg injury.

    Vonn upbeat despite big crash
    In dramatic scenes, Vonn was airlifted to hospital after crashing during the women's super-G course [AP]

    Lindsey Vonn vowed Wednesday to battle back from a season-ending injury sustained in the women's super-G in a bid to represent the United States at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    The ultra-competitive spearhead of the US ski team was left needing surgery on ruptured knee ligaments and a lateral tibial lateau fracture following a horror crash in Tuesday's opening event of the World Ski Championships.

    Vonn, 28, received 12 minutes of on-slope medical attention before helicopter evacuation to a nearby hospital, but she insisted on remaining positive.

    "First off I want to say thank you to the amazing medical staff that cared for me," said one of global sport's most recognisable and marketable female figures, a Sports Illustrated pin-up who has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and as an extra on US police drama series Law and Order.

    "I can assure you that I will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in Sochi"

    American Lindsey Vonn

    "I plan on returning to Vail (Colorado) as soon as I can to have the necessary surgeries."

    Vonn said: "I am also 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."

    With expected recovery times from ruptured knee ligaments normally between six and eight months, Vonn will have her work cut out to make it back on the snow as a real competitor with the 2014 Games kicking off in one year's time.

    But Vonn, whose recent divorce, self-acknowledged battle with depression and rumoured affair with golfer Tiger Woods have all been closely followed in the press, is nothing if not a fighter.

    Teammate Ted Ligety, who won the men's super-G on Wednesday, gave her his full backing.

    "That was tough, that was a brutal-looking crash," Ligety said.

    "Hopefully, I'm sure she'll be strong again next year and fight back and she'll be back to where she was.

    "Ski racing is a sport where you have so many teammates get injured and it's such a huge part of the sport that if an athlete ever let that get to them they would never do good ever.

    "Because it's such a dangerous sport, it's something that's such a norm having teammates get injured that you can't worry about it because you need to worry about yourself and try to hammer hard and be safe yourself."

    Privacy and respect

    Vonn's absence from the worlds is a major blow, not least for the US team, but teammate Stacey Cook pleaded for some privacy in their bid to bag some medals to fill the gap.

    "Our team's heart aches for Lindsey but we know how strong of a person she is," Cook (@staceycookusa) wrote on her Facebook page.

    "As a team, we still have big goals at these World Championships. We ask for privacy and respect in regards to questions about Lindsey so we can stay focused.

    "Thanks for understanding and the biggest of all hugs to Linds. With Laurenne Ross, Leanne Smith, and Alice McKennis."

    There were words of sympathy for Vonn's plight from all corners, not least Slovenia's Tina Maze, who won the super-G and will now be eyeing a potential bagful of medals in the absence of one her main competitors.

    "Ah, this life! @lindseyvonn: great fighter, you were pushing limits again! wish you fast and good recovery! best wishes from us!" tweeted Maze (@TinaMaze).

    In the past, Vonn bounced back from a spectacular crash in downhill training at the 2006 Olympics that left her with a badly bruised back, competing just days later.

    A year later, a badly twisted right knee in slalom training at the Are world championships saw her season brought to a premature end.

    Vonn also broke a finger in a crash at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, an event into which she went carrying a shin injury.

    Each time the American has battled back, picking up multiple medals and four overall World Cup titles along the way, and the US team will be hoping she is robust enough to pick up the pieces from another risk taken on the no-holds barred sport of alpine skiing.



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