VAIL, Colorado - Lindsey Vonn is still winning World Cup titles even though she's not walking yet after suffering injuries in a season-ending crash at the World Alpine Ski Championships last month.
International Ski Federation officials canceled the final men's and women's downhill races of the season in Switzerland Wednesday because of fog, sealing the championship for Vonn, who has three out of seven World Cup downhill wins this season. She missed two downhill races - one in Meribel and one in Garmisch - since her super-G crash in Austria last month and it wasn't until Wednesday that she officially locked in the title.
The win marks Vonn's sixth-straight downhill title and her 17th World Cup title. She needs just two more titles to reach Ingemar Stenmark's record of 19.
Vonn, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, had surgery in Vail in mid-February. She suffered a torn ACL, MCL and a tibial plateau fracture. When she spoke to reporters after the surgery, she hadn't lost her spark. Vonn was also posting photos of herself doing upper body strength workouts with her right leg encased in a massive brace.
The next World Cup season begins in October, and the women are scheduled for a test race on the new downhill course in Beaver Creek in late November. The Winter Olympics in Sochi begin Feb. 7, 2014.
"No doubt I'll be ready for Sochi," she told reporters in February.
Her workout and training regimen began almost immediately after surgery. Vonn has two physical therapy sessions seven days a week. The first session is at 8:30 a.m., and for now she can't do a whole lot beyond patella therapy - essentially moving the kneecaps around - as well as range of motion and quad therapy. She said Feb. 22 that she expected to do a lot more in about six weeks.
After therapy, Vonn heads to the gym for about an 1 1/2 hour workout focusing mainly on upper body and core exercises. After a break and some lunch, she's back in physical therapy.
She said she's taking her recovery and progress one day at a time. But with Sochi less than a year away, Vonn is as focused mentally as she's ever been.
"A lot of people have blown out their knees and come back and had a lot of success. I have no doubt I'll be back and be able to ski the same, if not better, than I did before, it's just going to take some time," Vonn said. "It all depends on me - I have to work hard."
Stacey Cook, the highest finishing female American downhiller behind Vonn fourth place, called this end to the downhill season "pretty anti-climatic."
"Normally finals are so fun and such a good atmosphere, especially here with how many people show up to watch," Cook, who finished fourth in the downhill standings, said Wednesday. "It's not the way you want to end, but I'm psyched to be ranked where I am and to keep getting better year-by-year."
The Women's U.S. Ski Team as a whole also celebrated victory Wednesday - the team won the women's nation downhill standings by 457 points; 1,330 to 873 over the Swiss team.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.