Lindsey Vonn puts off return from knee surgery for a month
AP Sports Writer
SOELDEN, Austria — Still recovering from right knee surgery, Lindsey Vonn has decided to skip Saturday’s season-opening race in Austria, preferring to return next month.
Vonn has been training on the glacier in Soelden for the last week and made her announcement Wednesday.
She’ll return at the races in Beaver Creek from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
“While I physically feel great, I have decided to not race this weekend and instead will focus on returning in Beaver Creek,” Vonn said. “I am confident the extra month of training will ultimately put me in the best position to have a successful season.”
Vonn shredded her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in a crash at the world championships in Schladming last February.
Dr. William Sterett of Vail-Summit Orthopedics, who performed the surgery, said he received a phone call from Vonn early Tuesday, when she informed him of her decision. While Sterett said he would have given her the green light to race, the extra time will give her surgically rebuilt knee more time to heal further.
“It gives us another month for the cake to be in the oven, for the ligaments to continue to mature and get stronger,” Sterett said.
Vonn will head back to Colorado.
“She’s excited to be coming out here this week to train speed out at Copper and ready to do that,” Sterett said.
The Olympic downhill champion and four-time overall World Cup winner hopes to be back in top form for the Sochi Olympics in February.
Vonn had originally targeted Beaver Creek for her return but then she said last month she was thinking of racing the giant slalom in Soelden after a solid training camp in Portillo, Chile, in August.
“By the end of the camp she was skiing super-G and GS like nothing really happened,” U.S. women’s head coach Alex Hoedlmoser told The Associated Press last week.
Vonn won the giant slalom in Soelden two years ago although GS is far from her best event.
Vonn has won three career World Cup giant slaloms to go with her 29 in downhill, 20 in super-G, two in slalom and five in combined. She needs only three more wins to match Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell’s record of 62 World Cup race victories.
Last season, Tina Maze of Slovenia won in Soelden and went on to take the overall World Cup title with a record point total.
The U.S. team said its starters for Soelden will be 2006 Olympic GS champion Julia Mancuso, reigning slalom World Cup winner Mikaela Shiffrin and Megan McJames.
The U.S. men’s starters are highlighted by two-time defending Soelden champion Ted Ligety and two-time overall World Cup winner Bode Miller.
Ligety won by a massive 2.75-second margin in Soelden last season, when he went on to win six of eight World Cup GS races.
“Soelden is an incredible place to start the season,” Ligety said. “Fortunately we’re always able to get some good training on the glacier leading up to the weekend and it’s a hill I feel comfortable on. I have a good chance to win again.”
Miller is back after a season off to fully recover from left knee surgery.
“My physical preparation is probably the best it’s been in a long time,” Miller said. “In taking a year away from the World Cup, I’ve been able to let my knee heal completely. I’m ready to return to the World Cup on a hill where I had one of the first wins of my career.”
The Vail Daily contributed to this report.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.