Despite crash, Lindsey Vonn content with season and is looking toward the future
Vail’s Lindsey Vonn didn’t celebrate her second-place finish in Wednesday’s World Cup Finals downhill race in Aspen. Instead, she did all she could to conserve her energy for Thursday’s super-G.
“I did my best. I wished I could have finished the season stronger, but my body is absolutely maxed out,” Vonn said after Thursday’s race. “I’m so tired right now. I slept all afternoon yesterday. I stayed in. I didn’t do anything. I went to bed at 8 o’clock, and I just woke up and I’m like, ‘Dang it, I don’t feel any better.'”
Vonn has battled a chest cold all week, which she said she picked up coming back from an Olympic test event in South Korea earlier this month. The raspy nature of her voice sang of someone who was far from 100 percent.
Still, Vonn raced. Her runner-up finish to Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec in Wednesday’s downhill was Vonn’s first career Aspen podium. It was a good moment for the American, who has more World Cup wins than any woman in history.
She’s had a trying season, highlighted by breaking her arm while training at Copper Mountain in November. The break was so severe it damaged the nerves in her arm, and she still is a long way from being fully healed. The injury cost her the early part of the season and ultimately took her out of contention for any globes.
“I definitely can get a little bit better extension when the temperatures are warmer,” Vonn said of her injured arm and hand, “but no major improvements.”
The World Cup Finals haven’t been kind on her body, either. After Vonn completed her second-place run in Wednesday’s downhill, she lacked the energy to successfully stop and crashed into the barrier at the bottom of the course. She came away mostly uninjured, despite being “wrapped in there real tight, like burrito-style.”
Vonn crashed again in Thursday’s super-G, this time on course. She took a nasty spill trying to get through the notorious Airplane Turn, but again came away largely unscathed. Well-known for having had numerous knee injuries, Vonn has become a master at efficient crashing.
“Mostly I try to protect my knees, honestly, which is what I tried to do today,” Vonn said after Thursday’s super-G. “I was coming in at a weird angle. I think I avoided a much more intense impact. My back hurts, but it hurt from yesterday, falling in the finish.”
Vonn is known for her dominance in downhill, where she has eight globes in the discipline. Less talked about are the four-time overall champion’s five super-G globes. Early in Thursday’s race, she looked every bit like a former super-G champion, until a slight mishap sent her crashing into the snow.
“It’s back now,” Vonn said of her timing in super-G. “That’s why I’m disappointed. I’m in a good place in my super-G. I trust myself. I’m confident. The timing is there and I’m skiing well.”
Vonn’s crash Thursday brought an end to her season. She won’t compete in any of the technical events this weekend.
The finish couldn’t come soon enough for the 32-year-old, who is physically spent. However, in ways she also feels healthier than she’s been since a crash last February in Andorra ended her season early.
Vonn’s attention now turns to resting, watching her friend Rodger Federer play tennis and getting ready for next season, which includes the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“Obviously I would have loved to finish today with a strong result, but I know my skiing is there. I know I just have to get stronger and healthy and I’ll be at the top again,” Vonn said. “I’m happy with my season, in a lot of ways. Obviously I want more. I’m not satisfied, but at the same time I’m also realistic. I’m healthy, and that’s the main point.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.