Freud: Do not write Lindsey off … ever
February 5, 2013
I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV.
But I’ll say it – she’ll be back.
Yes, this was a nasty injury for Lindsey Vonn – two torn ligaments and a broken bone. And the nature of the injury disqualifies Adrian Peterson comparisons of vaulting back to run for more than 2,000 yards in an NFL season within a year.
But like Adrian Peterson, Vonn is one special athlete. (Or perhaps better-phrased, “Like Vonn, Peterson’s pretty good, too.)
Flash back to December 2011 as the Val d’Isere, France, super-G was getting moved to Beaver Creek, and the U.S. Ski Team hastily assembled a news conference at The Arabelle in Vail. News of her divorce had just leaked the previous week, rumors of affairs – most particularly with Tim Tebow, for some reason – were circulating, and, yet, she still had smacked around the Lake Louise, Alberta, stop on the women’s tour to the tune of three consecutive wins the previous week.
I asked her what kept her skiing, despite the fact that she had won everything there was to win in skiing at that point. This is important, people.
On that Monday in December 2011, she had three overall titles (now four), nine discipline globes (now 12), 45 career wins (now 59), two gold medals at the World Alpine Ski Championships and an Olympic gold. And said Olympic win came in downhill, and, let’s face it, some wins are more equal than others. Olympic downhill is the biggest gold medal of them all.
“I’m trying to ski fast and I’ve trained a lot with the men this summer, with the Norwegian men, especially, and over in Golden Peak with the Norwegians and the Canadians,” Vonn said then. “I think that really motivates me and inspires me as well. I’m seeing how fast I really can ski. There is no limit.”
Then and now, Vonn seems to have her own standard. Physically, she races against the women’s field. Mentally, she races herself. She has her own motor that demands her to do things other athletes wouldn’t consider.
She could have stopped racing in December 2011 and retired as the most decorated American skier of all-time, and it would have been no contest with Bode Miller. She could call it a career right now and she’d go down as one of the best the sport – regardless of gender – has ever seen.
It’s not in her to step away. If anything, this is her new challenge. A quick survey of the initial news reports on the Internet says she’s questionable for Olympics in Sochi, Russia, one year out. Of local interest, the ladies of the World Cup will be testing out the new Birds of Prey course in December. That may be too soon, depending on what doctors find when they go to operate on Vonn.
There’s also more to be done. Austria’s Annemarie Moser Proll holds the career record for women’s World Cup wins at 62, three ahead of Vonn. Ignemar Stenmark is at 86 for the men. There are Worlds at Beaver Creek in 2015 to be won.
Vonn will be back.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.